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Encinal hosts debate tourney for elementary students

Encinal Elementary School in Atherton hosted an unusual Elementary School Debate Tournament on Saturday and Sunday, March 1-2.

More than 100 students from Encinal, Laurel and Oak Knoll schools in Atherton and Menlo Park participated in the tournament.

The event caps a year-long program in the Menlo Park City School District to teach all third-grade students debate skills and techniques, said Brier Buchalter, the program's lead instructor.

The program is intended to help students develop skills required by the introduction of Common Core standards, he said.

"Students now have to persuade others with strong arguments and also defend their opinions," said Laurel Principal Linda Creighton in a press release for the tournament.

"Debate helps students at this young age harness these skills in many ways," says Encinal Principal Sharon Burns. "They learn to communicate clearly and effectively, as well as to think creatively to solve problems."

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