The website for Upper Canada College uses cookies to enhance the user experience. To review our Privacy Policy, please click on "Additional Information" button above.

UCC strikes debate gold

Daniel Lu and Andrew Shi from the Class of 2022 have added an exclamation point to their Upper School debating careers, recently winning the Senior National Championship.
The victory is a bookend to the Junior National Championship victory the pair earned in Year 9 when they first began working together as a debate team. They earned the title by defeating their Year 11 teammates, Randy Chang and Justin Zhou, in the final.

Randy earned second-place honours in individual debating, while Andrew was third, Justin fifth and Daniel sixth.

"I’m very happy and proud of the debaters," says Jack Stewart, the University of Toronto law student who coaches the UCC debate club teams. "Two of our teams qualified for senior nationals and they placed first and second among 46 teams from across Canada."

"I’ve coached Andy and Daniel their whole career and they’ve been doing well at tournaments since they began debating."

Notes Daniel, "This has been quite the journey since Year 9. It was a bit of a surprise to win, but we did a lot of hard work to prepare, and it’s nice to add this win to our successes."

Andrew and Daniel have the utmost respect for their UCC competition.

"The other UCC team is incredibly strong," Andrew says. "They are both brilliant debaters and it was a fun round."

"They are Year 11s, so we have a lot of confidence handing off the debate club to them and we hope they can hold onto the national title.”

During the tournament, which was held virtually for the third consecutive year, the teams participated in six rounds of debate. They were given the topic for the first two rounds in advance to allow them to prepare, but the following rounds were impromptu, allowing the debaters only 15 minutes for preparation. 

Both winners say debating has enriched their lives and provided an excellent opportunity for learning and growth.

"It builds your confidence," says Daniel. "It eased the Year 8 transition to a daunting new environment that was the Upper School. The club became a second home for me and connected me to the overall school community."

Andrew sees teamwork and research as benefits.

"Having the ability to work with someone and find cohesion, knowing where we want to go together is a big part of debate," he says. "You also gain the ability to research and form clear, coherent thoughts. It helps your analytical skills and you can apply those in the classroom.”

Both students are members of the debate club executive and serve as mentors to the younger members. Daniel also oversees the French language debate teams. UCC’s team of Mateo Gjinali and Lucas Levenson recently competed in the French-language National Championship where they advanced to the semi-finals (one of the top four French debate teams in Canada) and Gjinali earned second place for his individual speaking.

In addition, a Year 9 team comprising Andy Yu and Dennis Lu are heading off to the Junior Nationals.

"Debating teaches you to think on your feet," says Stewart, “and it also creates a good space to find friends.”
The word experience The UCC Difference