Merryhill Milpitas students show the way



With COVID-19 situation bringing in a new distance learning environment and summer lockdown for students, a group of eight middle school students (Milpitas Golden Knights) with the active volunteer guidance of a high school student came up with a creative plan to spend their summer holidays safely indoors and socially connected by organizing a program through remote learning model for Public Forum Debate at Merryhill School.

How did this idea begin?  In light of the COVID 19 situation, when students were faced with challenging times trying to find ways to keep active during the lockdown, eight 6th grade Merryhill school students showed interest in practicing and learning techniques for public forum debate. 

With the assistance and leadership of Meghaa, the debate Advisor and judge (ex-Merryhill student and current Notre Dame student), the debate club was formed and sessions were organized.  Meghaa helped design the debate classes and practice sessions every week for 12 weeks with the idea to keep the students connected, stay mentally healthy and keep the social interaction going in challenging times.

About the Debate Sessions:  With dedication, the group started to practice from the end of May and continued to learn and acquire the skill that can assist them in their middle/high school.  Every week, the team gathered in a virtual meeting session and reviewed through debate materials/rules, watched debate videos, and practiced speeches.  The program was executed as four teams with two members in each team who debate every week through a virtual meet.

For every debate topic, the team members were re-grouped to bring in their best support for each other. The debate team independently handled work sessions between themselves during the week to prepare for the debate and keep connected. This helped the students to learn and practice teamwork. At the end of each debate, students voted for the next debate title and continued to challenge themselves to bring in their best. 

In addition to debate sessions and in the spirit of rewarding and motivating the students at the end of the debate session, the program was expanded to include General knowledge Quiz (covering Science/History/Geography/Politics/Sports) at end of the debate session.  The winners were recognized that helped bring in a positive and confident attitude towards adjusting to the new normal (distance learning model).

 Reward: By the end of the debate session, the kids were able to meet at a local park to celebrate their achievements, while social distancing. It was their first time meeting in real life since the start of the summer and the kids enjoyed catching up. At the end of the reunion, they were presented with trophies and medals to congratulate them on their progress and improvement in debating. Team pictures were taken and speeches were given to thank everyone for their participation in the program.

The kids individually expressed their gratitude to their judge, Meghaa, for guiding them through Public Forum Debate.

 Aarti a parent of one of the participants said, “I feel the summer 2020 debate club was a great learning experience for my son. He was able to strengthen his critical thinking and public speaking skills.  Also he had a good time connecting with his fellow peers.” While another parent Prasanthi added, “Debate sessions during the pandemic have been an incredible journey for my daughter. She really loved and enjoyed the sessions. Thanks to Judge Megha and Ravi for organizing this.”

The final debate session was attended by the Principal of Meryhill School, Ms. Quinn Letan who recognized the effort put together by the students.  The students were also given the opportunity to present the program to Mayor Richard Tran of Milpitas.  The credit goes towards all students of this program – Nalika, Diya, Saatvika, Aadya, Sohan, Adithya, Hrithvik and Katthir.

About “Milpitas Golden Knights”

Under leadership of Meghaa (Sophomore from Notre Dame) kids are inspired to create unique academic projects, participate in competitions and give back to community through Charity/Fundraising under team name “Milpitas Golden Knights”.

The author Meghaa, is a high school sophomore at Notre Dame High School is the leader and coach for the Milpitas Golden Knights team.