Regional

St Ann police debating competition to expand

BY RENAE DIXON Sunday Observer staff reporter dixonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, July 06, 2014    

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THE St Ann Police Debating Competition has been lauded a success and could soon spread to the other parishes in the Police Area Two division.

Head of Area Two, Assistant Commissioner of Police Ealan Powell, speaking at the final of the inaugural competition held at the Sandals Grande Riviera recently, said that he has already started dialogue with heads of the St Mary and Portland police as he seeks to expand the competition.

"We are going to have this competition for years to come," he told those in attendance.

Several people attending the final between St Hilda's Diocesan High School and the St Ann's Bay High School lauded Corporal Natalee Williams and her team for a successful first season.

Some even suggested that the competition become a national one.

Karlene Segree of the Ministry of Education's Region Three, said she was impressed with the dynamic and eloquent speakers.

"I really want to congratulate you for this vision," she told the organisers.

Superintendent of Police in charge of Community Safety and Security Unit of Area Two, Dudley Scott, said that the students who participated in the competitions will be agents of change in their schools.

"You will become agents of change for a non-violent Jamaica as you show how persons can argue without violence," he said.

Schools are already getting ready for next year's staging of the competition which has proven to provide not only intense competition and top-class entertainment, but which gave the police an opportunity to interact with students.

The final ended on a high note leaving persons in attendance wanting more. After a nail-biting finish, St Hilda's manage to hold off St Ann's Bay High to take the first title.

The moot argued by the teams was: "Those lewd and violent lyrics in dancehall music are a major contributor to the current levels of crime and violence in Jamaica."

St Ann's Bay was the proposing team, with St Hilda's High opposing.

The St Hilda's team of Nikkita James, Shauna Kay Martin and Davidine Brown could not hide their joy when it was announced that they were the first champions of the competition.

An excited team captain and head girl Shauna Kay Martin told the Jamaica Observer that her team prepared and expected to win.

Martin, best speaker of the final and of the entire competition, said that she was ecstatic for her school's victory as she was debating for the first time.

"I am so ecstatic because this is my first time doing a debate like this. My teacher encouraged me to do something like this and it is just so wonderful that it's my first time and we actually won," Martin said.

She said that the team was able to do well because of their hard work and guidance from coaches Marva Henry-Johnson and Suzette Williams.

"It is an awesome feeling especially because it is my first time," Martin said.

Coach Henry-Johnson was also excited for the students who she said did a good job.

"We expected to win because we always prepare because excellence is our goal," she stated.

She said that apart from winning, she expected the students to benefit from entering the competition.

"It will assist them with their writing skills and critical thinking. We are looking at the development of the entire individual and, of course, of their experience and the exposure gained they can only be better individuals."

Henry-Johnson said that St Hilda's team is already looking forward to the next competition when the school will be working to retain the title.

During the awards ceremony, St Hilda's High walked away with the Ealan Powell trophy in addition to several other prizes.

Twelve-year-old student of the Marcus Garvey High School Shauna-Lee Colbourne was awarded the most outstanding debator of the season. She was also recognised as the youngest participant in the competition.

Rachel Pyne, teacher at St Ann's Bay High, who spoke on behalf of the schools, expressed her gratitude to the St Ann police for staging the competition.

"Thanks for partnering with us to send the message to young people that disputes can be settled not through violence but through dialogue," she stated.

She said that the competition will help students to improve in school as well as in other competitions.

"As you go back to your schools, be the agents of change," she urged the students.

She also expressed that with the competition, students will no longer see the police as persons to be afraid of but persons there to protect and serve.

Colleagues of Corporal Williams, the initiator of the event, praised her efforts.

"Corporal Williams is an amazing person when it comes on to community safety and security work. She believes in partnerships; she believes in engaging just about anyone who has doings with her geographic base," Assistant Superintendent of Police Throyville Haughton said.

"What we have seen here is just an excellent display of how we get stakeholders from the community to get together for a common purpose. All the students were engaged every step of the way; the teachers were engaged, the business community, sponsors, police officers were engaged," he added.

Inspector of Police Anthony Lewis also congratulated Williams.

"It's a great idea; it has evolved into what seems to be a yearly event. Thanks to Corporal Natalee Williams, who has brought this idea to the fore and also who has given her all. The hope is, though, that the support will continue with the partners and all who are involved," he said.

Lewis said that the debating competition has given students the experience of being involved in discussions about issues facing the society.

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