A Successful Debating Season

RSGC’s debate team capped off a successful season with a first-place finish at the third and final Fulford League debate of the year. Grade 12 student Andrew Martin ended his RSGC debating career by winning the Aija Zommers Award for the Top Senior Speaker. 
Alison Hart, Senior School English teacher and the debate team coach, says it’s a really big deal to receive the top speaker award at that final tournament. After three rounds of debates – two prepared and one impromptu – the parent judges fill out score sheets, which are tallied and the highest score wins the top speaker. 

The last Georgian to win was Alex Forgay ’17, who took home the honour in 2017. Alex was, in fact, Andrew’s inspiration. 

“We were on the same team, but I was younger and I wasn’t very good. He was such an excellent debater. I learned so much just by watching him,” said Andrew. “I remember thinking what an amazing debater he was. He also won his last debate tournament, so this is kind of full circle.”

Andrew, whose final debate was about whether or not tech companies posed a threat to democracy, says the win was a nice closing chapter after working with the same team and coaches for the last four years. But obviously, he has come a long way since he started out on the team in Grade 9. 

“I think practice helps a lot, but it’s also confidence,” he said. “I was super nervous in Grade 9, but once you stop caring about what the audience thinks and can just do it because it’s fun, it alleviates a lot of the pressure. Then you can just relax and have a conversation.”

Ms. Hart, who says the whole team worked really hard this year to step up their game, believes that Andrew has a lot of impressive qualities that make him a strong debater. 

“He’s able to think on his feet and is in the know about current events, which elevates his game. He’s confident, excellent at lines of questioning and at cross examining, charms the judges, is very polite and grateful to be there,” she said. “He also gets along well with his teammates. Plus, he has a passion for debate and that goes a long way. Andrew can also add humour, which a lot of debaters don’t do. It can be really effective.”