North Sydney Girls’ High flexed their grey matter to win the United States Studies Centre’s inaugural ‘Debate the Future of America’ competition as part of the University’s Open Day in August.

It was standing-room only to watch the sharp-witted North Sydney trio narrowly defeat their fellow finalists from Penrith Selective High School, on the topic: “the killing of Osama bin Laden has made the world a safer place”. For their efforts, the girls won three iPad 2s for their school.

“The debate, the first of its kind, was a unique initiative to engage a younger audience in world issues and make them aware of the strong links between the US and Australia,” says Centre head, Professor Geoffrey Garrett.

The final followed a tough qualifying competition, tackling issues like the removal of Australian troops from Afghanistan and the contribution a tough refugee policy makes to our national security.

US Studies Centre Research Associate Tom Switzer, who judged the final debate said: “These debate topics are a far cry from the sort of debates I tackled as a high school student. It goes to show how much the world has changed and how the nature of education is changing to keep apace.”

Third speaker of the winning team, Lucy Lester said: “The debate was a very challenging experience and even if we hadn’t won, we all felt that our skills and knowledge of world issues had matured and developed greatly over the three rounds. Teenagers don’t normally get to comment on these types of issues so it was great to have our voices heard!”

Other schools locking horns during the debating competition included Cranbrook School, Pymble Ladies College, Sydney Boys High School, James Ruse Agricultural High School, Reddam House and St. Scholastica's College.