TRURO - Anyone planning to start an argument with Sarah Millman, Leanna Langille or Brie Dukeshire would be well advised to come armed with a full arsenal of facts.
And, just be prepared to be taken down a peg or two, given that the three CEC students are the province's newly proclaimed senior high school debate champions.
"I love the challenge but there is also a lot of pleasure in doing a really good job with debating," said Millman. "Like, if you know you've made a point well, it just feels so rewarding to know you've put somebody in their place," she said, prompting laughter from her debate teammates.
"That sounds kind mean, but delivering a good argument is just an amazing feeling, whether you agree with the side that you are on or not."
The trio captured the Nova Scotia Senior High School debate championship at CEC on Saturday after winning out over a total of 16 teams from across the province.
Their victory means that two members of the team - Dukeshire and Millman - will head out to Winnipeg in April to compete at the senior national debate championships.
The CEC team finished fourth at the 2013 national event in Calgary.
Beyond building self confidence, students said being part of a debate team helps them in their school work because it keeps them on top of current events. And having to learn to argue both sides of a given topic is a great way to broaden their thinking, they said.
"It's really easy to be narrow minded and have a one-sided view on something," Langille said, "but debate kind of opens you up to the possibilities and makes you analyze things you wouldn't normally analyze a little bit further. It's definitely a character-building activity."
Dukeshire agreed, and said beyond offering an opportunity to make national and international friendships, her debating experience has been an excellent confident builder as well.
"I think the confidence that comes from being a strong debater also improves, at least my character,
because before I joined debating I was very hesitant to speak in front of audiences and I had trouble defending my own opinion sometimes, especially if I felt like the younger smaller person in the room," she said. "But I'm very confident in myself now and I can't imagine anyone pushing me around verbally. I always feel confident that I am able to defend my own opinion."
The debate team is coached by Millman's father Paul and Leslie Fisher, a CEC guidance counsellor who helped form the debate team with its current members while she and they were at Truro junior high.
Fisher said the three CEC students, who were undefeated through both days of last weekend's debates, received "high praise" from the judges.
Dukeshire was recognized as the top Grade 11 speaker and ranked first overall. Millman was the top Grade 12 speaker in the competition and ranked second overall, while Langille was ranked eighth with a personal-best individual finish.