"It was a case of being too shy. I did enjoy debating, but I never really broke out of my shell until Grade 9 and 10, and that was in large part due to debating. Public speaking gives you confidence and a new way of thinking," he says. So much so that he was named captain of the debate team and has gone on to coach his peers, organize competitions and win several tournaments.
All students at St. John's-Ravenscourt School, in Winnipeg, are required to take the debating course in Grades 7 and 8. It is optional in the higher grades.
At McMaster University this fall, Stephenson intends to continue debating but expects it will be different. "The teaching staff is phenomenal at SJS," he says. "It's really going to be strange not having that safety net and advice that they provide."