4 Newark students to participate in prestigious ‘Speed Debating’ tournament

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NEWARK -

Four high school students from Newark will be completing in a prestigious high school debating tournament in Kentucky this weekend.

The four girls all attend North Star Academy. Speed debating is a style of debate where the contestants speak at 300 to 400 words per minute.

New Jersey has only sent three teams to the tournament in the competition’s 46-year history. This year, North Star Academy will be sending two teams.

The two-person teams are comprised of students Jada Darby and Gabby Figueroa and Lynn Yeboah and Jahne Benthall.

“We learned to love the game of debate as we continue to practice it,” Darby says.

The girls frequently compete against far wealthier private schools from across the country and have often beaten them.

“It's incredible what these young ladies have accomplished,” says coach Dr. Robert Burns. “It takes an incredible amount of work.”

The students say that they like to add some poetry to their debates to add an emotional underpinning to topics like race relations and economic policy.

“That's what makes our debate unique. The fact that we in incorporate our identity and experiences about ourselves, which I think also makes people nervous, because not a lot of people do that,” Yeboah says.

All four students say that they plan to become lawyers one day.

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