Edgemont Students State Their Cases
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
It was a packed house at Edgemont last month as the newly formed Mini-Imani Debate Team challenged the Electric Debate Team to a debate on two resolutions: Electric Cars and Parent Volunteers Making Lunch for the Entire School. The debate included a unique partnership with high-school volunteers, teachers, students and community leaders.
Overseeing the research and preparations were teacher-coaches Sandra McKnight (Imani) and Regina O'Connor (Electric) who were on hand to help students deliver their speeches which reflected their hours of research and preparation. Mini-Imani used their book club time to read, discuss and write persuasive arguments to prepare for the debate, while Edgemont’s PTA After-school Enrichment program was responsible for bringing the Edgemont team together. Two high-school students volunteered their free time to assist with the Imani team. One of those students, Matthew McGoey worked with the fourth and fifth graders alongside McKnight for two of Imani's practice sessions. “The collaboration was heart-warming as he sat with the Imani team and they looked to both of us for support during the debate,” said McKnight.
“Imani seemed to become more comfortable as time went on, especially as they received positive feedback and encouragement from the audience,” added McKnight. “When one Imani student mentioned that not everyone agrees on what’s healthy and another Imani student mentioned that volunteers have good hearts, but they are not always reliable, the audience could not help but smile, shake their heads and make sounds of agreement.”
“My team seemed pretty comfortable speaking in front of an audience,” said O’Connor. “Their preparation for rebuttal also served them well. When the other team mentioned professionalism and training of cafeteria workers, we were ready with facts and statistics about health violations, such as leaving mayonnaise out and cooks not wearing gloves."
Students from Montclair High School’s Civics and Government Institute judged the debate. In the end, each team won a trophy but more importantly, they gained confidence in their public speaking prowess.
Photographs provided by Joy Glenn.