GREATER Portmore Primary emerged victorious in a nail-biting debate with Naggo Head Primary at the recent Western Union Primary Schools' Debate Series.
Heading off the challenge on the moot "Be it resolved that Jamaica is a better country after 50 years of Independence", the teams put up a vigorous fight, urging several rounds of applause from the audience.
While the proposing team — Naggo Head — cited examples of Jamaica's athletic prowess, its intriguing culture and advances in education, infrastructure and health, it was the opponents who held the judges' attention with a creative discussion replete with examples of poverty, crime and violence, inflation, poor leadership and the country's growing dependence on other nations for support.
"At a point, I fell down and I felt that we weren't going to be the winners of this match, but shockingly, we were," said an elated Jamaliah Stephenson after her team was announced the winner.
Team members Ashley Graham, who was awarded best speaker, and Abigail Lindo were also excited at the win, a just reward for the long hours of preparation.
"Preparation was hard; we were very playful [at first] and then we started to take it seriously because we really wanted to win," Stephenson said.
They noted that they sometimes skipped lunch and stayed after school to prepare, doing so until late into the night on the eve of the finals.
"It was good. We got exposure, so it's good," one of the young girls said of the competition that saw eight teams battle for the trophy.
In the judges' report, Courtney Campbell, CEO of GraceKennedy Financial Group, said both teams performed well.
"The judges agree on the point that they both did lots of research. We want to congratulate you for having taken the time out to do the preparation that you did," he told them.
GraceKennedy CEO Don Wehby, addressing the teams and other students at the event, said he was particularly proud of how well the teams had done throughout the competition.
"I am particularly proud of those here today who have shown how bright your lights are shining throughout this debate. Also, I congratulate Western Union for having the vision to put this together," Wehby said.
He went on to give personal and practical tips to the students, most of whom will be enrolling in high school in September, pointing out that they should be excited about that new phase of their lives.
"First of all, I would say the right values and attitudes will give you the right mindset. We all know right from wrong. When you are not sure, trust your instincts," he advised.
Wehby reminded the students to be polite and encouraged them to have passion and get involved in co-curricular activities so they can be well-rounded.
"Hard work and determination will get you everywhere, that is my personal opinion. The truth is that hard work will get you the results you want, so make up your mind to be as determined as you can and you will accomplish your goals," he said.
The teams were awarded with trophies, gift certificates, gift baskets and other prizes.