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On Thursday 29 January, four of the School’s most able Sixth Form hispanists travelled to Sevenoaks School in Kent to take part in the Spanish debating championships. Competing against 14 other schools, many of them sporting very able teams, the St John’s pupils put on a very commendable performance, with one pair reaching the semi-finals.
The atmosphere on arrival was one of nerves and excitement as pupils from some of the top independent schools in the country separated into different venues to debate a series of contemporary Hispanic issues. The motions debated were varied, requiring pupils to demonstrate considerable flair and mastery of the Spanish language to make their points: Would embracing capitalism provide the best way forward for Cuba? Has censorship become fashionable? For young people in Spain, is emigrating the only way to secure a decent future?
Both St John’s teams demonstrated strong debating skills from the start. In the end, however, it was the Upper Sixth pair of James Barr and Henry Empson whose persuasiveness and command of vocabulary brought victory in both the opening rounds. After beating Lady Eleanor Hollies and Tonbridge School, they lost just narrowly in the semi-finals to the host side, who won last year’s competition.
Mr Hicks and Mr Barber, the two members of staff accompanying the group, commented, “From all accounts, this was a well-organised event enjoyed as much by the spectators as by the participants. We look forward to participating again next year.”
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