The benefits of learning how to speak publicly in Yemin Orde’ s Debate Club help its at-risk teens gain self-confidence, sharpen critical thinking skills, strengthen academic skills, and develop the important ability to communicate clearly in a public forum. The Village’s debate club works hard throughout the year to develop and improve these skills and to present oral arguments in a “debate championship,” which is the final debate event of the school year.

This year, 10 students competed for prizes and honors in the Village’s Debate Championship. Participants presented their arguments inside the gym before a panel of judges and an enthusiastic home audience. Attorneys from an Israeli law firm served as mentors during the school year for students interested in debate and competing in the championship; 11 of those attorneys returned to judge the final competition.

Debaters were given 10 minutes to develop their chosen topic. Click on the video below for excerpts from the debate championship.

Banners to encourage individual debates read “Yohan, Shai, and Shmuel, we’re proud of you and believe in you” and “Tabakuw, full success, we love you.”

The debate topics reflected the real-life challenges faced by many of the Village’s youth. Examples of the topics included how to handle stress, anger and anti-Semitism, social-media bullying, discrimination against disabled persons, and terrorism.

Many of the debaters also addressed the rigors of immigrating to Israel. “[In Israel,] I’m the mouth of my parents,” said Tabakuw, who is from Ethiopia. “I realized that for my future and that of my kids, I must integrate.”

Gabriel, an immigrant from France who spoke of life lessons learned from a friend struggling with leukemia, said, “Optimism is medicine worth taking.” Gabriel earned First Prize in the championship.

The winner and runners-up of the debate championship received gift certificates to area stores. All participants received a watch and a book about great speeches in history.

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