For the second year in a row, Armidale Secondary College will have a debating team in the state finals.
Twelve months ago it was the year 9 and 10 team, while this year the year 7 and 8 debating team have talked their way into the final of the statewide competition.
Along the way to the final, debating coach Fiona Smee said the year 8 girls - Josephine O'Baoill, Sophie Ridley, Anna Gooley and Brooke Stainton - have had some challenges, arguing aginst topics they might sometimes agree with.
Topics have included that school canteens should only sell Australian products, and that the government should increase arts funding.
Ms Smee said the girls are involved in music and drama, but as the negative side in that debate, they had to argue against a funding increase.
"They were arguing against their heart," she said.
Their most recent debate saw the team argue against the topic that sports involving animals should be banned.
"We were the negative side, which was a bit tricky, but they did a very good job arguing about the economics of losing an entire industry, and the morality of not wanting to hurt horses or greyhounds."
Ms Smee said nearly all debates were done via video conference this year, which is how the final will be held on Thursday.
The exception for the Armidale team was a debate locally against Uralla.
The competition started with three debates during a round-robin stage, before entering a kockout stage.
Only one hour of preparation is allowed before the debates, and no research is permitted, so students have to rely on their knowledge.
"It's very impressive for 14-year-olds to have enough understanding of government and society to get up in front of another team and talk convincingly," Ms Smee said.
While debates conducted over Zoom video calls was new to most of the metropolitan schools, it was technology that regional schools are used to, as they have used it for several years due to the distance involved when forced to travel for debates.
"Country schools were good to go, as soon as we were able to, but the city schools didn't have the technology, or weren't confident with it," Ms Smee said.
"It's a nice example of us being ahead of them."
There were 234 teams in total entered (including five from New England). After the three zone debates there were five knockout rounds ahead of Thursday's state final.
On their way to the final, the ASC team debated against teams from Menai, Albion Park, Rose Bay SC, Mount View and Smiths Hill.
The state final this Thursday is against Callaghan College Waratah.