A HOLYWELL high school is celebrating a double success after both of its teams won the county round of the Rotary Youth Speaks Competition.

It is a fantastic outcome for the Ysgol Treffynnon students, who have been working hard organising and collating their presentations since the beginning of the spring term in January.

This is the first year that the competition, organised by Rotary International of Great Britain and Ireland (RIGBI), has run since the pandemic. The four-stage debate competition is designed to support and encourage the development of effective communication skills. The county round was held at the Beaufort Park Hotel, Mold.

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It was an especially triumphant result for the intermediate Year 8 team, who suffered a last minute setback when one of its members unfortunately couldn't make it to the competition and had to drop out less than a week beforehand. Tallulah Burkett jumped at the opportunity to step in and had just five days to prepare, supported by fellow team members Holly Rigg and Cerys Daly.

Their presentation title was: Should school uniform be compulsory? The students are all passionate about the subject and felt it was something that they could research and speak about confidently in the competition.

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Year 11 students Ayanda Parkies, Lewis Bowen and Gerda Klimantaviciute made up the senior team and their presentation was: Is data sharing a threat to our privacy? They each have their own unique perspectives on the subject, and a great understanding of both the social and personal implications of data sharing in today's world.

Ysgol Treffynnon has a long tradition of public speaking and students have participated in this competition every year with some success, including teams going through to the national final. Most recently in 2019, Siobhan Henry, head of humanities and PE, worked with the senior team who went on to win the district finals.

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Shelley Francis-Kearney, English teacher, has been helping the students this year. She said: "I work with Siobhan to run our Junior Debate Club at school and this is the first time I've been involved with the competition. Our students are so passionate about debate, and we had to run pre-heat contests for our juniors as so many of them were keen to be involved in the competition!

"It's great to get back to some sense of normality after the last couple of years and for both teams to win this heat is amazing, we are thrilled for them.

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"Tallulah was absolutely brilliant and worked so hard on her presentation both in and out of school to prepare. All the students are talented and dedicated and this really came across on the night; their arguments were mature and compelling.

"We are so proud of the professionalism with which they represented Ysgol Treffynnon and are very excited to see where the competition takes them.

The students have each been given feedback from the panel of judges that they will use to perfect their performances for the next round, when they will represent Flintshire in the district competition at Glyndwr University on March 9.