SCONE Grammar School (SGS) enjoys a proud tradition of its students attaining both sporting and academic honours - often beyond what could normally be expected from larger metropolitan schools with greater pupil numbers.
And, it’s in this nurturing environment that Year 10 and local Merriwa girl Ruby Wong has excelled in the field of debating.
She was recently invited to attend a ceremony at the University of Technology in Sydney in recognition of her achievements.
Hunter Valley Grammar School principal and chairman of Hunter Independent Co-Educational Schools (HICES) Debating Paul Teys presented Ruby with the Runner-Up Award in the preliminary rounds of the NSW Senior Debating category for 2018.
“Students can start competing from Year 5 and can continue up to Year 12,” he explained.
“The competition is growing with this year having 44 schools across NSW taking part.
“There are more than 1100 students involved forming 289 teams.”
The competition started among independent schools in 2007 when the NSW Department of Education stopped non-government schools from competing in what was previously an inclusive, all-school, state-wide competition.
“My daughter had just become the Debating Captain at Central Coast Grammar School in 2007 with suddenly no competition available to them,” HICES debating organiser Sue MacNeil said.
“So, I approached the principal and asked for support in starting our own competition – and it’s now grown into what it is today.”
Ruby’s success, however, has not been achieved without help.
Under the careful encouragement and guidance of Deb Moore, she first began participating in inter-school debating competitions in Year 5.
Spending her time with the debaters during lunch breaks and after-school, Mrs Moore also travelled to debating events in Sydney, Newcastle and Maitland witnessing their challenges and successes.
Mrs Moore has been instrumental in the success of all the SGS teams and in the development of their oratory skills.
People can not only enhance their public speaking ability through debating, but simultaneously refine their skills in persuading others to accept different opinions – skills that are vitally important in an increasingly uncertain labour market.
“Debating helps you think more critically and helps build essay writing skills as well,” award winner Ruby said.
“But, also you learn how to work in teams with people of different ages and backgrounds.”