Co-op reasserts debate dominance

The top Education Week debate teams, champion Majuro Cooperative High School (in red) and runner up Marshall Islands High school with judges and coaches. In front: Coop students, from left, Pico Doulatram, Mimi Wang, and Dayne Jacklick, with MIHS 2 Sharllyma Aruhane, Kathrene Hermon, and Andrew Sanchez. Photo: Bolden Elanzo.

The culmination of Education Week 2021 was a debate competition for all high schools — including ones from Kwajalein, Jaluit and Wotje — at the International Conference Center (ICC) Friday.

Majuro Cooperative High School took the title, after not making the debate finals last year. Unusually, two Marshall Islands High School teams argued themselves into the “final four” ending a long drought, as it has been many years since one team from MIHS, let alone two, made it as far as the debate semifinals in this annual event.

So the finals this year was a platform for redemption for the Co-op and MIHS teams.
The topic for this year’s debate was: “Should the RMI government give Covid-19 benefits to all its citizens?”

As nerve wracking as the preliminary rounds of the debate were for the competitors, it brought them the opportunity to better understand the debating capabilities of each other.
After the first five rounds, it came down to four teams for the semifinal: MIHS 1, MIHS 2, Co-op 1, and Baptist 1.

An interesting turn of events set up a face-off between the MIHS teams. The pairing presented a challenge to the MIHS students as they had to duke it out with their own classmates. Meantime, Co-op 1 took on Baptist 1 to see who would go to the championship round. Co-op and Baptist had a heated debate, while the MIHS teams engaged in a brutal but professional battle, which resulted in a … tie.

Co-op 1, on the other hand, was victorious against Baptist 1.
One of the two MIHS teams had to be chosen to go against Co-op in the final round, so the judges reviewed the debate. They eventually proclaimed MIHS 2 as the winner of its debate with MIHS 1.

Then it all came down to the main event with two of its finalists, the Maddog Co-op 1, which consisted of Pico Doulatram, Mimi Wang, and Dayne Jacklick, versus the “underdog” MIHS 2 Geckos team of Sharllyma Aruhane, Kathrene Hermon, and Andrew Sanchez.

As the debate opened, both teams went into high gear. There was no idling or feeling their way — both went on the attack against the opposing team. None of them wanted to back down from the other, as the audience witnessed a grand crossfire. Everything was on the line for them, for Co-op it was the opportunity of redemption for not winning last year’s debate, for MIHS 2 it was the revival of their presence in the finals after a string of defeats too long to recall.

The final debate result indicated the strength of both teams: the 2021 Covid aid debate was no blowout. In the end, Co-op 1 won the debate with a score of 15, while MIHS 2 scored 13.

Co-op 1 took the championship for the team event, while MIHS took the first and second place individual best debater awards as Sharllyma Arhuhane was declared Education Week’s best debater, and Wilmer Joel from MIHS 1 the runner up. Third place for best debater was a tie for Co-op 1 team members Mimi Wang and Pico Doulatram, who shared the award.

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