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Speech & Debate Team Earns State Civic Learning Award
Posted 2/17/23

Model UN group with Nigerian advisorOn February 16, the California Department of Education formally recognized Corona del Mar High School (CdM) with a 2022 Civic Learning Award of Excellence. Only one high school in the state is chosen annually for the award, which honors programs, projects, classes and individuals engaging students in civics and promoting positive citizenry.    

CdM’s Speech and Debate/Model UN team applied for the award last year through a series of essays focusing on fostering civic engagement within the school and throughout the community. The team’s elected Student Board Members had to show examples of how the program:

  • Provides instruction in government, law and democracy;

  • Incorporates discussion of current local, national and international issues and events, particularly those that students would view as important;

  • Was designed and implemented to allow students to apply what they learn through community service, classroom curriculum and instruction;

  • Offers extracurricular activities that provide opportunities for students to get involved in their schools or communities;

  • Encourages student participation in school governance; and

  • Encourages students’ participation in simulations of democratic processes and procedures.

“Speech and Debate/Model UN is a great way to meet new people. It’s a wholesome activity that keeps students engaged and excited about civic engagement,” said Teacher Laura Mayberry, the team’s faculty advisor. 

The team has doubled in membership within the past year. In addition to weekly meetings in which students debate current events at the local or state level, students watch televised political speeches and election returns, attend city council meetings, host a series of high-profile guest speakers and voter-registration drives, and engage in thought talks. Less structured than a debate, thought talks allow everyone an opportunity to discuss the topic in a more flexible format. While the focus is largely academic, the team also enjoys occasional trivia nights.

All CdM students are welcome to join Speech and Debate/Model UN, regardless of speaking experience. “It’s a great way to improve public speaking skills in a supportive environment,” said Mayberry. 

The group will travel to New York for the National Model UN Conference in April.