Should McDonald's take responsibility for making their customers obese? Should Michigan keep its new "right to work" law?
A group of Farmington area students will argue those questions Sunday, during the Stars Middle School Debate at Eastern Michigan University (EMU). Stars Educational Consortium founder Autumn Harris said she created the debate program after being contacted by a parent connected with Farmington TAL (Together for Accelerated Learners). TAL provides support and advocacy for Farmington area gifted students.
"It was something the parents really wanted," Harris said.
She also enjoys the opportunity to bring debate to middle school students, having missed out on it when she was in school. Harris said she has seen first-hand how debate improves self-confidence and helps participants hone their study and research skills.
"There wasn't a program available when I was in middle school," said Harris, a graduate of Oak Park High. "This allows me to be able to live through the kids I coach."
As they did last year, students who participate in the Stars program will have the chance to argue in front of Oakland County Circuit Court judges later this year, she added.
In addition to debate, Stars offers classes in public speaking similar to Toastmasters, and a "Success for Life" social skills program. Harris, an EMU graduate and licensed social worker, said she hopes to expand the program to more districts.
Guest judges at Sunday's debate, which starts at 3 p.m., are State Rep. Vicki Barnett (D-Farmington Hills), Farmington city council member Greg P. Cowley, State Rep. Harvey Santana (D-Detroit) and Tony Saunders, retired Detroit Deputy Chief and State Certified Mediator. They'll be judging debates on these resolutions:
- Resolved: Michigan should keep the Right to Work Law that secures the right of employees to decide for themselves whether or not to join or financially support a union
- Resolved: McDonald’s should take responsibility for making their customers obese and should be required to post labels on their food to inform customers of the adverse health effects.
The event is free and open to the public, and will be held at the Halle Library Auditorium, 955 W. Circle Drive, Ypsilanti. Learn more at stars-edu.com.