Thales Academy Rolesville JH/HS students recently traveled to Harvard University to compete in the 46th Annual Harvard National Forensics Tournament, which Harvard Debate describes as “the largest and most prestigious high school speech and debate tournament in the country.” This year’s tournament, which takes place every Presidents’ Day weekend across the Harvard University campus, hosted nearly 4000 competitors and 400 schools from around the United States and the globe.
Eighteen Thales Academy Rolesville JH/HS students competed in four different events: Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Public Forum Debate, Congressional Debate, and Dramatic Interpretation, and their debate teams all had at least one winning round, with two Lincoln-Douglas teams going 3-3 in their win-loss record, and two Public Forum teams going 2-4.
“We are so proud of our students for performing with such strength and confidence among the thousands of competitors this year,” says Mrs. Ashley Bahor, Administrator of Thales Academy Rolesville JH/HS. “We also are grateful to Harvard University for hosting such a valuable event that supports critical thinking and fosters healthy, objective debate among high school students worldwide.”
Such a tournament is a natural fit for Thales Academy students, where the Classical Curriculum emphasizes the Socratic method in its pedagogy and students are encouraged to think critically, actively seek truth and passionately explore ideas.
“Rather than learning primarily through lecture method, Thales Academy students are constantly steeped in the habits of listening, interrogating, and discussing texts,” explains Bahor. “These habits are formative and contribute to the skills needed for success in competitive debate.”
Mr. Josh Herring, the Speech and Debate teacher at Thales Rolesville JH/HS who organized the school’s trip to this year’s Harvard tournament, echoes this sentiment: “Debate is a natural fit for a classical school, and our journey to Harvard shows that a school built on the traditional components of research, communication, and logical reasoning enables students to be competitive at the highest levels. Every team in debate came back with at least one win on their record. We look forward to returning in 2021 and improving from here.”
Debate is a universal skill fostered at Thales Academy, and graduates enter the real world with valuable communication and thinking skills that serve them well in college, careers, and life in general. In the meantime, students apply them in many immediate arenas, including sports. In fact, two-thirds of the Thales Academy Rolesville JH/HS debate tournament attendees this year also participate in school athletics. “Participating in speech and debate increases students’ mental reflexes while enhancing team communication, and the discipline of practice rounds increases coachability,” Herring explains.
“Our school’s mission is to develop the whole person, and debate is a multi-faceted skill we foster in our students that serves them throughout life, whether it be on a sports team, in a classroom, in a professional setting, and even in personal relationships,” says Bahor. “Debate at Thales Academy is built upon the principles of unfailing integrity, truth in communication, and increasing access for all students, and we are proud of our students for embodying these on the world stage in their recent trip to Harvard.”
Thales Academy currently operates ten campuses with locations in North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee, instructing over 3,000 students, and continues to add campuses as demand for its successful school model grows. Student formation is designed to develop the entire person, which is achieved through a research-based teaching method, best-in-class instructors, and a culture that embodies traditional values. Hallmarks of Thales Academy include: rigorous, college-prep academics that emphasize learning to mastery; character formation; real world skills development; personalized attention and affordable tuition with no extra fees or fundraising. Tuition at Thales Academy Rolesville JH/HS is $6,000 per year, with payment plans, discounts, and scholarships available.