It has been another historic year of debating success at Melbourne Grammar School in 2019.
For the second year in a row, the School claimed the A Grade (Year 12) championship at the DAV Schools Competition. Prior to 2018, the School last won the title in 1968. Two hundred and twenty-nine teams competed at A Grade level in 2019.
The A Grade team, comprising James Cheung, Peumike Dissanayake, Jasper Harrington, and Ben Solomon, had previously won the D Grade competition in 2016 when they were in Year 9. “It was a nice symmetry to win again in Year 12,” says Ben Solomon, Captain of Debating.
In addition, this year the C Grade (Year 10) Debating team comprising Kelvin Cao, Angus Cha, Albert Du, Will Flintoft, and Peter Frangos also won their championship besting a pool of 369 teams.
“I’d like to note the role that former teacher, Mr Sam Greenland, played in building the Debating programme at Melbourne Grammar School,” says Ben. “I don’t think we’d have had the chance to grow in the same way without his guidance. I’d also like to thank Ms Sharon Mulready for her leadership and support during this year.”
The win was just one of many debating related highlights during the year for Ben, who represented Australia at the 2019 World Schools Debating Championships. Ultimately the Australian team reached the quarter finals – an impressive result in a field of more than 60 countries.
Ben has been a Victorian Debating representative since 2017. Year 11 student, Luc Cazenave, was also selected in the Victorian team this year. The team were runners up in the 2019 Australian National Schools Debating Championships and Ben was awarded the Chris Erskine Medal for Best Speaker in the Final.
“I really enjoy the competitive element of debating,” says Ben. “In some ways it combines the intellectual rigour of classroom learning but then it’s also a game of sorts where you are trying to fit all the parts into place. I like the strategy side of it.”
“People often forget that debating is a team sport, and they underestimate how essential it is to play a role which benefits the team, whether it’s giving up ideas you’d otherwise hold for yourself, or passing down material to someone else. It’s all about making the team perform better,” adds Ben.
Ben has been awarded a prestigious Hone Medal by the School in recognition of his outstanding achievements in debating. He plans to study overseas upon the completion of Year 12.