Celebrating the past requires debating on the future

AS part of New Town High School’s centenary year, grade 10 students put their reasoning skills to the test in an official debate against three current Supreme Court Judges and former New Town students.

The debate, which was held in the school’s Hudspeth Hall in early March, saw each of the sides debate the topic of whether the voting age should be lowered to 16 years of age.

Their Honours, Justice Stephen Escourt, Justice Robert Pearce and Justice David Porter, argued the positive.

The students, head prefect Evan Stone, Luke van Emmerick and Charlie Pilkington, argued the negative.

Luke, who was first speaker for the students, said he was excited at the opportunity.

“It was quite an interesting debate because the topic changed around a couple of times, but it was good to debate against three judges, which is not something you do every day,” he said.

“It was quite tough having to put down your own generation and grade and say that you can’t vote because you don’t know what you’re doing.”

In the end, the adjudicators of Secretary of Education Tim Bullard, former principal Ian Morgan and former student Peter Legg made the unanimous decision that the current students arguing for the negative were the winners.

“It was surprising, I wasn’t expecting to win because they’ve had many more years’ practice, and they’ve debated and gone through law school,” Luke said.

“We’d been preparing for two weeks, so we’d been doing a lot of research and trying to figure out why we couldn’t vote – it’s been quite thorough preparations.

“Our main argument was about how it’s a privilege to vote and it’s not something we just throw around because you need proper education to vote – it’s not just something you can give away as a token of liberty.”

Luke said he took a lot away from the debate.

“They were a lot cooler and calmer – they showed you don’t need to be loud to be heard, you just need to have the right reasoning,” he said.

“To be a successful debate you need a bit of confidence, to be able to think on your feet, be able to talk well to an audience and be able to put together an argument.”

Evan said it was important to learn from the knowledge and experience of other people.

“We learnt that there’s a real diversity of opinion among different generations,” he said.

With the debate being part of the 100-year anniversary of New Town High School, Evan said it was important to acknowledge the history of the school.

“Nothing that exists today would be here without its history,” he said.

“It really shows the effects an institution like this can have on society.”

Principal Dave Kilpatrick said the event highlighted the education excellence and community leadership that both current and former students possessed.

“I’m hoping the current students take a message away that they’re part of a much larger leadership group and community,” he said.

Caption: From left, debate moderator and retired solicitor general Leigh Sealy, their Honours Justice Stephen Scourt, Justice Robert Pearce and Justice David Porter, New Town High debating team of Evan Stone and Luke van Emmerick, Charlie Pilkington and timekeeper Luca Cartledge.

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