DALE Initiative Expands: Fourth and Fifth Graders Engage in Debate

“DALE”, (Debates Académicos de Líderes Estudiantiles) the once small debate initiative, now looks to expand to primary. On Thursday, February 22nd, fourth and fifth grade ANS students took part in their first DALE committee, debating about complex topics, like food insecurity, and friendship. The event began at the library, where all students met in what resembled a fashion show, with the new delegates dressed as lawyers in court. They were received by the officers and advisors of DALE. Thelma Lanuza, president of the club, spoke about her experience in debate and how it enlightened her to become a successful high school student.

After the inauguration, the delegates were split into their groups and moved to a class where they would debate with the help of three experienced high school student moderators. Every delegate received an ID, a booklet, and a placard with the country they represented. The fourth grade students struggled to understand the debate at first, as they were confused by the strict rules and terms of the committee. However, they eventually demonstrated their ability to speak up and make valid arguments. 

I was impressed with their extremely strong response to the proposed topics. Kids were eager to share and impress the chairs/moderators to win the very sought after DALE diploma. Fifth graders spoke with confidence about the topic of  “The effects of having bad friends” where they concluded that bad friends are “hard to get rid of, but can be detrimental to one’s decisions and future.” Fifth graders showed readiness for middle school, with their resilient answers and understanding of the complex debate instructions.

One class debated on a very polemic topic: homework. In this particular class, various delegates allied to make a very bold argument. They affirmed that homework is of no use, “some kids are very busy after school and they don’t have the time to do homework so they end up staying up late and not getting proper sleep.” Another delegate disagreed, “homework is super important. When you grow older and have a lot of work in college, you’re going to appreciate having done your homework and you’ll remember what you did in primary school.” The intensity reached a climax, and the students lived up to the moment.

After a while of debating, the first of two, hour and a half sessions finished, and so started the half hour break. During the break the kids ate some of the snacks provided by DALE, and their lunches. Snacks were plentiful, and all kids ate in their groups happily.

After the recess, they all went back to their classes to finish their debates with an agreement signed by at least three delegates. Thankfully, agreements were signed, and now the world can rest at ease that these delegates worked past their differences. 

Primary school now has an idea of what is to come, DALE worked their very hardest and executed this project stupendously, overall a great day for all fourth and fifth graders.

To finalize the event, a few lucky delegates were prized for their performance in the committee. Some of the lucky ones were Jaime Fillol (5th grade), Emilia Cortez (4th grade), and Cesar Lacayo (4th grade), as they won best delegates in their respective committees. Also during the closing ceremony, eleventh grader, Mia Gutierrez, Vice president of DALE spoke about the message and meaning of this event. “ Our words can heal, unite, and be our biggest tool if we use them right.” 

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