“Congratulations to the high school students who debated at Tiyan High School! The arguments were compelling and the students were passionate. Your efforts meant you gained knowledge and can now help elevate the discussion in the community as we journey towards a self-determination vote.”
— Governor Eddie Calvo
Lt. Governor Ray Tenorio opens debate
On Friday morning, three teams of high school students debated the merits of their chosen political status for Guam.
“This debate is one that should be had at every dinner table on this island, in every office and every conversation after church, at every school and with every resolve for the native inhabitants to choose a political status, and for the United States to honor that choice,” Lt. Governor Ray Tenorio said. “Then, and only then, can justice be brought to the people of this land.”
Lieutenant Governor Tenorio opened the debate, welcoming both the debate teams and the groups of students from various public and private high schools who filled the Tiyan High School gymnasium.
The debate is only the first of several activities and meetings the Commission on Decolonization is holding to help educate the island community about the importance of a self-determination vote, and the three status options that will be placed on a ballot: free association, independence, and statehood. The teams consisted of:
Student: Jordan Barcinas, Southern High School
Student: Fredlyn Rose Lumogda, Tiyan High School
Attorney Sandra Miller, Attorney Hannah Gutierrez Arroyo
Student: Tadashi Hiura, George Washington High School
Student: Peter John Cruz, Tiyan High School
Student: Bray Rosario, Southern High School
Student: Aisha DeLeon Guerrero, Southern Christian Academy
Coaches Dr. Mike Bevacqua and Victoria Leon Guerrero
Student: Maleia Lute, George Washington High School
Student: Angelo Paule, Tiyan High
Student: Tricia Charfauros, Southern High
Student: Michael Fentress, Southern Christian Academy
Attorney Vera Wu, Coach Frank Toves
In front of about 800 of their peers, the high school students debated the merits of their status option and challenged the status options of their competitors.
The team debating Statehood won by judges’ choice for how well they presented their status option and defended their choice against the probing questions of their competitors. According to the Judges’ Choice, the teams were ranked:
– First place: Statehood
– Second place: Free Association
– Third place: Independence
Prior to the start of the debate, there was a poll given to the students at the gymnasium. The results of that pre-debate poll:
– Statehood: 51 percent
– Free Association: 30 percent
– Independence: 19 percent
Following the debate, the students were polled again:
– Statehood: 48 percent
– Independence: 34 percent
– Free Association: 16 percent
Tricia Charfauros of Southern High School also was recognized as the morning’s strongest debater. The Commission on Decolonization thanks the judges Anthony Meno, former Judiciary of Guam controller; and UOG Professors Dr. Mary Cruz, and Dr. Teresita Perez.
“I want to thank the students who worked so hard on their debates. It couldn’t have been easy,” the Lt. Governor stated. “I also want to thank the attorneys, coaches and consultants who helped prepare the students, as well as the judges who took time to encourage our youth to take part in a community conversation and campaign to educate our residents. Well done all around!”
Governor Calvo noted this debate and the educational campaign that is being pushed forward by the Decolonization Commission is extremely important.
“If we as a people decide to make it happen, then Guam will no longer be a colony after nearly 400 years of colonialism,” the Governor stated. “Since the State of the Island speech, more people are talking about it – this is a great thing. Now we have to move forward and ensure everyone understands what self determination means, and how each political status could effect our community.”
Commission members and select persons from the University of Guam have started preparing the information on the different status options. More activities will be held, to include village town hall conversations, a schedule for which will be announced in the coming weeks.