As part of a new summer school program this year to help strengthen academic skills, more than 100 Rowland Unified School District Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) students going into grades 5 through 7 participated in a beginners debate class. The two-week program, created by locally-based New England Academy, featured students from several schools across the District. The program is being held at Jellick Elementary and the first session took place June 8 – 19 and due to demand, an additional class was added that is taking place now thru July 8.
Students in the beginners course were instructed in the art of modified parliamentary debate -- a style in which three-person teams debate a given controversial current issue. Students were taught how to create and refute an argument as well as how to create a well-organized speech that convinces a general audience. The topics debated this summer included the need for school uniforms, the legalization of motorcycle lane-splitting, and the increase of Los Angeles's minimum wage.
“The students learned a great from the course and were excited to participate in the end-of-session tournament that featured a dozen teams as well as nearly 40 participant debaters,” said RUSD Special Projects Director Silvia Rivas, who coordinated the program. “I didn’t know how to debate – it was a nice experience,” said Ybarra 6th Grader Riley Rivera. “My favorite part was getting to heckle at somebody and learning about POI – point of information.”