Lukas Weese, a Grade 12 CDS student from Aurora is an accomplished debater and public speaker. He recently returned from the Senior National Public Speaking Championships debate in Winnipeg where he finished as a finalist in two categories against students from across Canada.
At Nationals, he competed in Interpretive Reading, which requires a competitor to present a piece of prose between five to eight minutes in length and Parliamentary Debate, which pits debaters against each other and offers an issue to be discussed through pre-determined opposing viewpoints.
Debating is as much competition as it is an art form, explains Lukas, “A debate is an intellectual battle or a war essentially; you really have to know a lot about the issue beforehand but you also have to improvise on the spot. When someone is saying something that is logically incorrect, you have to recognize that.”
The Performing Arts have always been an interest of Lukas’, so the transition into debating was easy. He started during his first year of Senior School thanks to the encouragement from his teacher and Debating Coach, Kerstin Wyndham-West. “When I volunteered, I fell in love with the whole art of public speaking," recalls Lukas. "These kids, to be able to speak three to five minutes about a world issue, I was just so impressed and astonished by the talent level and I said, ‘I want to do this.’”
Lukas has a natural home on the stage. He has been acting since he was five years old in various school plays and community productions. The drama stalwart announced himself to the CDS community with his portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge in CDS’s production of A Christmas Carol. His preparation is what caught drama teacher Scott Garbe’s eye, “Lukas came to rehearsal with the entirety of his part memorized – evidence of the level of preparation which has become a hallmark of his dramatic work.”
His performance as Scrooge led to further opportunities in school productions. He portrayed a tender-hearted war veteran in The Curious Savage, the ruthless CEO Caldwell B. Cladwell in Urinetown! The Musical, Governor Danforth in The Crucible, and most recently Skelly Manor in The Rimers of Eldritch. Garbe adds, “The range and depth of his dramatic work is a testament to Lukas’ powerful imagination, commitment, and passion to the art of theatre cast and crewmates.”
Lukas is proud of the public speaking skills he has developed in his three years with the Debating Team. “The skill is so useful, because wherever you are in the world, you need to learn how to develop an argument, you need to learn how to negotiate, and you need to learn how to speak in front of people.”
Coach Kerstin Wyndham-West agrees wholeheartedly. “It has been wonderful to see Lukas developing his public speaking skills over the past few years, and I am thrilled by his success at the national level.”
At university, Lukas plans to continue debating and explore his other interests in law and broadcasting.