Debate Mentees Put Skills to Use – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Debate Mentees Put Skills to Use

Using all the skills they acquired from their mentors on the HWS Debate Team, students at North Street School recently presented arguments to the City School Board in favor of, and against, school uniforms.

In an article about the students’ presentation of arguments, The Finger Lakes Times noted “All of the points raised were developed by North Street students, Hobart and William Smith Colleges senior Amil Shah told the board after the debate.”

Shah’12 and other members of the HWS Debate Team have been working after school with students from North Street Elementary School and Geneva High School, teaching the younger students both the intricacies of debate and the power of being able to make a cohesive argument.

The full article follows.

Finger Lakes Times
North Street students debate school uniforms

Heather Swanson • April 17, 2012

GENEVA – The city school board may not be ready to make a decision on school uniforms, but North Street students know where they stand.

The school board heard arguments at Monday’s meeting from students in the North Street School Debate Club. Fifth-grader Beka Bekauri offered three concise arguments in favor of uniforms.

First, he told them, it will save money. Money that parents typically spend on school wardrobes could be redirected to more important bills – taxes, for example.

Second, uniforms will increase school pride. Students, he noted, would develop “a level of respect for their school.”

Third, and most important, Bekauri emphasized, students will be judged not by their clothing, “but by the content of their character. “Judging people on the inside is good,” he told the board, noting uniforms would make that task easier.

Another fifth-grader and debater, Morgan Collins, countered Bekauri’s arguments.

“[Uniforms] won’t actually save you money,” Collins asserted.

In fact, considering the frequent need to wash uniforms, parents may actually lose money when their water bills rise, she said.

Second, Collins continued, uniforms will make students uncomfortable. Students may actually end up resenting the school for forcing them to wear a uniform, she argued.

Finally, uniforms will stifle creativity. “You need creative problem solving,” she argued. “It is important to be creative when you’re younger.”

Debaters Mitchell Burrall and Christine Tran, both fourth-graders, also turned out in support of their classmates.

All of the points raised were developed by North Street Students, Hobart and William Smith Colleges senior Amil Shah told the board after the debate. HWS has been collaborating with the school’s debate club.

“Our first year of this debate club has been exceptional,” extended studies coordinator Denise Arliss said.

The school is working on a fourth draft of the uniform policy, but Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Lawrence Wright cautioned officials are waiting for more direction from the school board.

“Until we really know where you stand as a group and until you reach consensus, it’s difficult to move forward,” he said.