8th Graders Debate Constitutional Topics

IMG_1995 (1)On the 16th of December, the Eighth Grade class once again commenced constitutional debating, the time honored tradition of formal arguments overseen by primarily Eighth Grade English teacher Sharyn Dupee and Eighth Grade History teacher Patrick Blackman. As always, the debates covered hotly contested issues throughout the nation. This year, the middle schoolers argued over Gun Control Law in Massachusetts, NSA domestic surveillance, the Equal Rights Amendment, the Death Penalty, and Zero Tolerance policies on the first day. In an Eighth Grade debate, two teams of five represent opposing sides-one in favor of a motion, the other opposing the motion. Both teams make an opening speech in which they define their position and key terms to their debate. The speakers alternate between the affirmative and negative sides, with speakers outlining key points. After each speech, the other side is allowed to rebut the other’s points. The debate ends with both sides concluding their arguments in a final speech. Mr. Blackman presides as a quasi-moderator, informing the debaters of when they should speak and also holding a small Q & A session after the end of the debates. The next day, debates continued, with different students returning to Death Penalty and Gun Control, while more middle schoolers argued over the words “Under God” in The Pledge of Allegiance and the Protection of Hate Speech under the First Amendment.  Throughout both days, students from nearly every grade politely watched as both sides of each debate made good points and rebutted each other. “I felt that the debates this year were solid,” said Mr. Blackman, “No debates fell apart and overall they were very good.”

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