Latin "Tempers" on Display at San Antonio Schools

Written by Patricia Hawke for

Hispanic Students from San Antonio Schools Participate in Debate Contest
Four San Antonio schools participated in the National Hispanic Institute’s debate and speech tournament held in October.  The competition was held in Austin in October and four San Antonio schools – Central Catholic, Keystone School, Incarnate Word High, Boerne High and Health Careers High School participated.  San Antonio schools already have sizable Hispanic populations, and this competition keeps students abreast of Latin issues while also helping them sharpen their competitive edge. 
Helping Hispanic Students at San Antonio Schools Polish Communication Skills
The tournament embraces 200 of the top Latino high school students and includes participants from around the country.  The categories that were open to San Antonio schools included such high pressure verbal sparring as extemporaneous speeches and cross examination.  Extemporaneous speech participants are given a general theme, but have no idea of the topic they have to speak on till just before the competition.  There’s no doubt that the kind of quick thinking reflexes and sharp mental processes that are requited to take part in a contest of this nature hones the intellect, and creates confident communicators.  Students at San Antonio schools benefit from participation in such confidence building exercises that help fine tune their communication skills.  Besides, participating in such high pressure competitive situations helps these students to get a glimpse of the “pressure cooker” environment of a fast paced global economy, and helps them prepare for it.  Debates are another excellent medium for self expression where individuals can polish their communication skills and learn to put forth their opinions in a convincing manner.  Students of San Antonio schools who are avid debaters will find themselves better able to grasp the nuances of body language and precise communication better than non-debaters. 
Hispanic students, especially in Texas schools, tend to be at the receiving end of the flak along with other minority groups for lowering school rankings.  Hispanic students struggle with linguistic problems and the issues of a smooth assimilation into mainstream America.  Cultural differences and the feeling of not belonging can de-motivate the most enthusiastic student.  Under such circumstances, student
 participation in debates like those conducted by the National Hispanic Institute should be encouraged.  Students at San Antonio schools can benefit from the exposure to other students from around the country who may have higher levels of academic excellence and may be inspired by these role models.  Plus it gives them a chance to interact with others while learning from them and contributing to discussions at the same time.  Such student participation in high pressure contests like debates and extramperoneous speeches may do more for San Antonio schools and their Hispanic students than any number of well meaning NCLB score improvement measures.