MILLTOWN, NJ - Students from Joyce Kilmer School and North Plainfield Middle School participated in a Bi-District Debate on Wednesday, May 28th. This is the 2nd debate for both schools. Initially, in December 2013, students in Mrs. Gerhart's 8th grade Accelerated Language Arts Class at Kilmer mentored Mrs. Sapega's 7th grade Accelerated Language Arts class at North Plainfield on the Interactive debate process. Teams were intermingled during the debate focusing on the question: "Are Anti-bullying programs in school districts enough to prevent bullying?" The team design was to ensure the North Plainfield students understood the debate process which would serve as a "spring board" for their invitation back in the spring to debate the Joyce Kilmer students.
On the 28th, students debated "Do Social networking websites provide a healthy way to improve friendships or, do social networking websites isolate people and put them at risk of predation?" North Plainfield defended the position that it does not provide a healthy way to improve friendships leaving Joyce Kilmer students to defend the position.
Both teams defended their positions providing significant research. This was a true testimony to collaboration. Throughout the entire learning process curiosity was the word that appeared to be the common thread. Where there is curiosity the learning always takes place. Through preparation, research, and collaboration team members became more and more curious with the information they were researching.
Both teachers are hoping this can be an annual program for both Districts. As Derek Buhl, JK 8th grade student, shared "It was amazing to see the affect I had on another student that I had never met before. I was able to teach her what I learned. That felt really good." Megan Clarke, equally, shared, I was amazed at the very first meeting how everyone just got together, shared and combined their information, and off we went to debate. it strengthened my communication and certainly team building skills."
Both Mrs. Sapega and Mrs. Gerhart were thrilled with the outcome of this learning experience and looks forward to partnering again next year. They would like this to be an annual project for both districts. Programs such as this truly brings merit to the phrase "Together Everyone Accomplishes More."