Park City elementary schools’ debate teams shine at state competition

Trailside Elementary and Parley's Park Elementary debate teams set a high standard and demonstrate the strength of the PACE program

SANDY, Utah — Trailside Elementary School’s debate teams made a remarkable showing at this year’s state debate competition, securing top positions among over 80 teams. The success highlights the strength of the PACE program, designed for gifted and talented students in the district.

Melissa Bott, the Trailside PACE teacher, explained the rigorous selection and preparation process. “The kids are chosen by how well they can write, their research, their test scores, and teacher recommendations,” Bott said. Those who get into debate spend months developing arguments and rebuttals.

This year’s debate resolution, issued by the state, focused on whether the benefits of social media outweigh the harms. Trailside’s teams excelled, with Aramis Turchin and Maggie McNeil placing first for the affirmative side, Clara Nunnelly and Tess Cartin securing second place, and Eva Metzger and Jenna Shroyer placing ninth for the negative side. Both received speaker awards.

The Park City Education Foundation supports the debate program, which involves fifth graders from multiple elementary schools, including McPolin and Parley’s Park. Two teams from Parley’s Park also placed, with Lukas Delaney and Arthur Herrmann taking seventh place for the affirmative side and Luke Williamson and Ford Kimble earning second place for the negative side. Addison Booth from Ecker Hill Middle School also received a speaker award.

Bott emphasized the program’s importance in developing critical thinking and public speaking skills. “We teach them how to debate, and then we have a school debate. From there, we choose our top teams to go to the district debate, and the best from there advance to state,” she said.

The dedication of the students and the support from the community have been crucial to the program’s success. “It would not be possible without the Park City Education Foundation,” Bott noted, highlighting the foundation’s role in funding the program.

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