Students shine in debate battle

The top two debate teams in the Education Week finals: From left, runner-up Marshall Islands High School’s c, Sharyllma Aruhane (who won Best Debater for the second year in a row), and Wilmer Joel; champion debate team Majuro Cooperative High School’s Amaziah Lamata, Lijakwe Milne and Kyle Jamore, with debate judge and National Nuclear Commission Chairman Alson Kelen. Photo: Chewy Lin.

Margaret Heffernan once said “For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, and debate.”
This was the case for the Public School System and the National Nuclear Commission-hosted debate that ended Education Week on a high note. The day of debates at the ICC saw students engaged in learning, developing ideas, and bonding with each other.
This debate was for the secondary schools in the country based on the resolution that the Marshallese people are more likely to die from Covid-19 pandemic because of the ongoing health impacts of nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands. We must address health justice for all. All-star debaters from 10 secondary schools, including the Adult Basic Education Program, assembled in two teams at the International Conference Center Friday.
The atmosphere intensified as soon as the preliminary rounds got underway. The debate went for five rounds throughout the day.
During each round the teams went to different tables facing different schools. Marshall Islands High School 1, Assumption High School 2, Kwajalein High School 1, and Majuro Cooperative High School 1 qualified for the semi-finals after the five preliminary elimination rounds.
The intense semi-final round had the audience holding their breath waiting for the outcome. For the second year in a row, MIHS and Co-op faced each other again for the finals. MIHS 1 debaters consisted of season debaters including Wilmer Joel, last year national second best debater and MIHS best debater, Sharyllma Aruhane, last year’s National Best Debater, and Kathrene Heneus, last year’s second place team debater.
Co-op 1 featured veteran debaters Kyle Jamore and Lijakwe Milne with new debating member Amaziah Lamata. The final round was judged by NNC Chairperson Alson Kelen, College of the Marshall Islands Nuclear Institute Director Mary Silk, and Ministry of Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Francyne Wase Jacklick.
The finalists took their debate on the ICC podium facing the crowds with microphones to amplify their voice so it can be coherent to the audience.
After a coin toss to see which team chooses which side of the resolution, it was apparent that MIHS was on the “con” side supporting the position that the Marshallese people are not more likely to die from the Covid-19 pandemic because of the ongoing health impacts of nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands, while opposing this resolution was on the “pro” side affirming that Marshallese are more likely to die.
To say that the final debate was a battle would be an understatement. Both teams hammered it out on stage and didn’t show any signs of surrender as they held firm to their positions.
Following the end of that nerve wracking debate from the top competitors in the country, the judges came together to finalize the results for this year’s debating champions with Co-op winning for the second year in a row. Each member of the Co-op championship debate team received $250.
MIHS was runner up, and Co-op team 2 members Olya Pedro, Angelica Ditchen and Yelmer Lejjena came in third place as well as the second place top school award of $500 worth of Office Mart gift certificates from the US Embassy.
MIHS on the other hand won the best debater position which went to Aruhane, her second one, and the top school award of $1,000 Office Mart gift certificate from the US Embassy.
AHS and KAHS both received an honorable mention as well from the Embassy with a $250 Office Mart gift certificate.

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