March 2, 2015
Persuasive and well-articulated arguments by lead speaker, Joshua Vialva, convinced the judges to crown Mayaro Secondary School as champions of the debating finals of the 2014 bpTT Schools Environmental Awareness Competition last Thursday.
Vialva, a Form Five student, could not contain his excitement at the victory, “Our entire team worked really hard to research and present our arguments with the guidance of our teacher Miss Jo Ann Clement. All the schools were excellent and we are proud to have competed and won. I am somewhat shy and this competition helped develop my confidence and public speaking ability. Having taken part, we are all better students and more empowered conservationists and citizens.”
Held at the Mayaro Resource Centre, the finals of the 2014 debating competition were unavoidably postponed as a result of the damage to the Manzanilla-Mayaro Road caused by severe flooding last November.
This competition, which commenced in 2006, is endorsed by the Ministry of Education and is administered by Mayaro-based non-governmental organisation, The Black Deer Foundation, with the support of energy company BP Trinidad and Tobago.
Ronda Francis, Corporate Responsibility Manager, bpTT, underscored the company’s endorsement of the project: “This competition melds environmental awareness and education – two critical focus areas of bpTT. It presents a solid platform for students to build their self-confidence and express creativity. Apart from developing research skills to exercising elocution, art and writing abilities, these young people also raise consciousness about relevant ecological topics that impact their communities and the entire nation.”
Urged on by a participative audience of students and teachers, Mayaro Secondary presented a convincing repudiation of the topic question: “Be it resolved, with the increase in hydrocarbon discoveries and oil spills, would the long-term benefits of implementing an alternative eneregy system outweigh the associated cost with its establishment?”
Mayaro Secondary copped the title with 407 points, leading runners-up and defending champions SWAHA Hindu College (382 points) and St. Stephen’s College (347 points). Due to scheduling conflicts, students of Coryal Secondary were unable to attend the finals.
Chief judge Andy Paul, Principal of Mayaro Government Primary School, commended the schools for their high level and depth of research and preparation. He congratulated the students, teachers and organisers on the high standard of debating skills and techniques.
Apart from the debating component, the competition also incorporates categories of Art/Poster and Essay Writing, all aligned under a common theme for 2014: ‘Creating Symbiotic Relationships with the Environment’. Catering for schools in the north-eastern and south-eastern education districts, the competition saw the partcipation of 40 primary and secondary schools and is expected to grow this year.
According to Black Deer’s founder and president, Arvolon Wilson-Smith, “The competition has expanded over the years and is paying dividends. Apart from the general lift in the environmental awareness of participants, there are tangible results including increased success in subjects such as English and Art by participating students. With the inter-action of a wide cross-section of schools, our local students are more confident, and today, Mayaro Secondary has shown that they can be the best.”