Almanac

Schools - March 5, 2014

Encinal hosts elementary school debate tournament

Encinal Elementary School in Atherton hosted the Menlo Park City School District's inaugural elementary school debate tournament Saturday and Sunday, March 1-2.

Approximately 130 students from Encinal, Laurel and Oak Knoll schools participated in the parliamentary-style event.

The tournament involved teams of two children who debated on behalf of the "government" or the "opposition" for several rounds, according to parent-vounteer Samira Parekh Jones. Each round was assigned a debate topic and children received 15 minutes to prepare their presentations to a panel of three to five judges.

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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