Students at Miltoncross school in Portsmouth put on a formidable night of eloquence and entertainment at a hotly-contested debating competition.
Fifteen Year 10 pupils at the specialist languages school captivated a room of parents, friends and teachers as they battled to win arguments on a number of subjects.
Motions included the justification of torturing terror suspects, raising the alcohol limit to 21 and holding parents liable for their children’s crimes.
For each debate, there was a speaker who argued the motion, a questioner who quizzed the speaker before questions were taken from the floor, and a chairman who summed up the arguments and kept timings in check.
And there was not a dull moment as controversial statements and amusing interjections kept audience members on the edge of their seats.
Jayne Williams, whose daughter Jerry was voted best chairperson, said: ‘I was so impressed with the quality of debates. They were interesting, sophisticated and often humorous. Everyone did incredibly well in spite of the pressure they were under.’
Winning speaker Louiza Scotto, 14, wowed the crowd with her erudite argument in favour of further education being a right.
She said: ‘I was so nervous that I was up until midnight practising my lines.
‘But in the end I had a great time, especially as I feel strongly about the subject.’
Her opponent, questioner Jamie Cartwright, charmed his audience with witty interrogations. He said: ‘I had a strong opponent but I kept my calm and concentrated hard.
‘It was nice to get a reaction from the audience – making them laugh gave me a buzz.’
Individual prize winners received vouchers, as did the overall winning team comprising Jerry, Jamie, and Sam Poole, 14.
Niel McLeod, headteacher, said: ‘Students always remind you they can achieve so much more than they are capable of.
‘That’s the magic ingredient of our job – when they surpass expectation. And tonight was one of those moments.’