History students in Jack Kennedy Debate


To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the death of President Kennedy, students from St Paul’s History department were invited to debate the impact he has made on politics since. Anastasia Ní Riabhaigh gives an account of the event.

I had the privilege of attending the annual debate for local high schools organised by the SDLP. My team captain, Aoibheann Millar, and I faced opposition from three other schools on the topic of whether President John. F. Kennedy’s popularity lies in genuine political success or in pure nostalgia.

Millar opened the debate with a five minute speech emphasising the major role Kennedy played within politics during his presidency.

Our debate allies then went on to further discuss Kennedy’s political success, and the round concluded with the second opposition’s rather dreary argument.

Whilst other pupils were speaking Millar whispered; ‘Don’t be nervous you’ll do fine.’ I wasn’t nervous though.

I was the first speaker of the second round, and after a party member called my name to speak and I straightened my back and approached the podium. I discussed Kennedy’s impact on the Space program and the Civil Rights movement, emphasizing that Kennedy was more than an image.

That round ended after three other speakers put forward their argument. The counter argument teams spoke well, but their speeches focused more on the irrelevant topic of Kennedy’s numerous consorts, rather than putting forward any convincing arguments.

After having time to counter argue any issues raised by other teams, Millar began the concluding round with our closing points.

She spoke well, better than the majority. The other speakers followed her and then the judges left the room to deliberate which team was the winner.

Each team member received a £20 gift voucher for participating, which was the best ‘thanks for showing up’ prize I have yet to receive.

I spoke to an adjudicator afterwards and was complimented on my speaking; apparently we had been discussed very positively. Regardless off not receiving first place, I genuinely enjoyed the evening and it was an excellent opportunity to improve my public speaking skills.

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