No arguments about debating talent in the Clarence Valley
"AFTER our arguments, obviously you will see..."
"I passionately believe that..."
"There are shady and untrustworthy characters..."
The words fired back and forth between the 16 students in the South Grafton Public School hall.
And the teachers smiled and nodded.
"Three minutes, thank you very much."
The young students, including Caitlin Eggins from South Grafton Public School, came from as far as Tweed Heads to Laurieton to try out for the North Coast state debating squad, who will compete in Sydney in November.
Nominated by their school after their results in the Premier's Debating Challenge organised by the Department of Educations Art Unit, the kids were put through their paces in a variety of different scenarios and topics.
"There's general knowledge questions, individual debates where they have a short preparation time and they have to deliver rebuttal and an argument on a given topic," North Coast coordinator Rhonda Thompson said.
"Then they had to take part in two debates for which they had to prepare in 40 minutes."
The topics for the debates ranged from Australia banning gambling, primary schools banning contact sports to whether school age children should watch the news each night, and schools and parents banning homework.
"Often they have to make an argument for which they not necessarily believe in," Ms Thompson said. "It takes a great deal of intellect and thought for them to see both sides of an issue.
"I saw a great deal of commitment from all the kids. Before today they've never met one another, and their team comradery, and their ability to stay focussed and work together was phenomenal."
And while there were no winners from each debate, Ms Thompson said the sportsmanship shown by each of the students was a credit to them.
"We picked the kids who we think will work together as a team," Ms Thompson said.
"It was great to see the kids come together, embrace and congratulate those selected."