02 Dec 2021

Laois student wins prestigious university's Junior Schools Debate

Laois student wins prestigious university's Junior Schools Debate

Weronika Popko, Portlaoise College, 2021 Individual Winner of the illustrious Leinster Junior Schools Debating Competition.

A Laois third year student at Portlaoise College has beaten all the competition to win the Individual award at a prestigious Irish university's schools debating competition.
Weronika Popko is the 2021 Individual Winner of the illustrious Leinster Junior Schools Debating Competition.

The Leinster Junior Schools Debating Competition is run by the renowned UCD Law Society and Literary and Historical Society. It is the biggest competition of its kind in Europe. Every year hundreds of teams compete from schools all over Leinster and this year - despite the Covid shutdown - 198 teams took part.

Due to Covid 19, the final did not take place as usual in the Fitzgerald Chamber at UCD, but instead competitors took to Zoom.

Three Portlaoise College teams took part and all three made the break. Weronika debated topical and controversial issues: the merits of computer skills in school, the four- day working week, climate change, development of rural Ireland, the privacy of
celebrities and superheroes. In each round, she competed against seven other schools, including Belvedere College, Willow Park, Alexandra College and, Loreto on the Green and many more.

Last Thursday, March 18, after months of competing, Weronika beat off the last few contenders to win the illustrious title.

Weronika described the experience of debating through Zoom meetings.

"It was challenging and nerve-racking, but also incredible and irreplaceable. I am thankful for having had the opportunity to do what I love best," she said.

Weronika thanked her teammates and teachers.

"Their support made me more confident, more motivated and inspired me to continue to do better and make them proud," she said.

Below: Weronika Popko and her mum Malgorzata with Portlaoise College Principal Noel Daly and Deputy Principal Patricia Cullen. 

The school says that its students and staff are looking forward to being together again after Easter when they will celebrate Weronika’s great achievement.

The Junior Schools' Debating Competition is open to secondary school students in Leinster from 1st, 2nd and 3rd year. The competition is co-convened by the Literary and Historical Society and the Law Society of UCD.

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