History students’ success in Historical Association’s Great Debate

Callywith A Level History students Asha Chevannes and Cora Williams-Peck have recently participated in The Historical Association's Great Debate 2022.

The students competed alongside 12 other sixth-form students from Truro and Penwith College, St. Ives School, Redruth School and Camborne Science & International Academy in the South West heat held at Truro and Penwith College.

Asha achieved a fantastic second place in the annual public-speaking competition which culminates in a final to be held next year at Windsor Castle. Cora was also given some brilliant feedback from the judges on how her focus was unique and fascinating.

This year, the topic for debate was 'why does history matter to me?' Each student had five minutes to deliver their argument in response to this year’s question. The judges then asked questions for further information or clarity on certain points.

Asha chose to speak about her family history and discovering her personal connections to the past, she described her speech as follows: “Everyone has a unique version of history because we all have our own collection of stories. Exploring my name, Chevannes, has given me pieces to the puzzle of my Jamaican ancestry, however there can never be certainty behind any truth.”

Cora spoke about the importance of history to the arts. She shared: “In my speech, I talk about why understanding history allows you to have a much more enriching experience when consuming media and the arts. Focusing on the award-winning musicals Billy Elliot and Hamilton, as well as some of the most celebrated art in history such as Guernica by Pablo Picasso and American Gothic by Grant Wood.”

The judges, Dr Jameson Tucker, Lecturer in Early Modern History from the University of Plymouth and Mr Len Sheppard, Co-ordinator of Newquay Heritage Archive and Museum, remarked on the difficulty they had in selecting the winner due to the high quality of speeches.

Callywith History Lecturer Louise Doney said: "Asha and Cora took part in an internal heat initially, whereby History Lecturer Jonny and I listened to the potential candidates and we were in total agreement that Asha and Cora should go through to the South West heat. On the day of the South West heat, I was extremely proud of Asha and Cora, they presented their ideas with clarity and poise. Their arguments were well researched which was clear through the level of detail covered within the 5-minute allotted time; and in the way they handled the judges questions. Each spoke with little reference to their notes, engaging with the audience and making pertinent points which definitely resonated with the judges and with me personally.

“The students did Callywith proud, and we were very lucky to have them representing us.”

A very well done to both Asha and Cora and to all this year’s entrants!