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High school debate teams from five countries recently participated in a World Schools debate-format tournament at Old Parkland. Twelve teams from Australia, Canada, England, Mexico and the United States competed in six rounds in the second annual Old Parkland Debate Tournament.  Team England finished in first place defeating Team Australia in the championship round. 

Two Dallas teams, Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet School and The Greenhill School, joined other high school debate delegations from California, Iowa, Louisiana, New York and two other Texas teams participating in the two-day six-round tournament.  The tournament topics ranged from human rights to income disparities and natural resources.  The final round debate topic was “When in conflict, the protection of global human rights ought to be valued above the respect of national sovereignty.” Judging the final round were Dallas attorney Kim Askew, State Representative Dan Branch and Civil District Court Judge Craig Smith.

Nonprofit organization, Old Parkland Debate Tournament, sponsored the tournament and the teams’ travel and expenses to offer experienced and winning debaters the opportunity to explore contemporary and relevant world issues on the grounds of one of Dallas’ most historic venues.  The nonprofit was formed to extend Old Parkland’s educational mission through the age-old debate format of a discussion of questions of public interest. 

The final round debate took place after lunch was served to all participants and guests in the Pecan Room in the restored Nurses Quarters building.  With its 25-foot ceilings and massive fireplace, the Pecan Room houses a unique array of historic collectibles, including wooden floor planks signed by United States Presidents, Supreme Court Justices and other visiting dignitaries. 

The World Schools style debate utilizes two three-person squads with one arguing that the determined topic is true and the other presenting the opposition.  The tournament’s dynamic format combined “prepared” and “impromptu” topics. The impromptu topics were given to the students one hour prior to the debate testing true “thinking on your feet” and spontaneous presentation skills.

Encouraging youth from around the world to examine contemporary issues affecting today’s world as well as their future ties to Old Parkland’s mission to be a vibrant campus analyzing and exploring topics to invoke conversation and offer solutions. 

“Engaging the world’s youth in discussions of concern for all humanity offers a spark of inspiration to all of us,” said Harlan Crow, chairman and CEO of Crow Holdings.  “Listening to these students present their ideas and arguments is really entertaining.  They truly added to our atmosphere of continued learning here at Old Parkland.”

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