For the first time anyone can remember, speech and debate students at Ygnacio Valley, College Park, Northgate and Las Lomas high schools have qualified for the national debate championships in Chicago this May.

Students from the schools showed strong performances at the national qualifier held in January in Sacramento.

Qualifying at the tournament were Ygnacio Valley's Matt Boer and Paige Oka; Northgate's Elizabeth Coates, Ayse Trail, Parisa Banini and Alexandra Jacobson; College Park's Peter Tolentino and Las Lomas' Darshna Anigol.

"This is a great accomplishment for our schools, especially considering the programs are less than four years old," said Dan Leahy, executive director of Impact Through Debate in a news release. "Additionally, student participation in this qualifying tournament would not have been possible without the generous donors of impact through debate."

Impact Through Debate is a local nonprofit organization focused on speech and debate education.

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    In accordance with the city's centennial celebration, all Walnut Creek students are encouraged to participate in the 2014 Student Poetry Contest.

    The Walnut Creek Library Foundation, Ygnacio Valley Library and Walnut Creek Library are asking young writers to focus on this year's theme: "100."


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    Poems may be no more than 32 lines, and authors are encouraged to "think about the number 100 and what it means to you."

    The free contest is open to students ages 5 to 19, and all participants will receive a poetry contestant certificate. Winners may participate in a student poetry reading on Saturday, May 3 at the Walnut Creek Library.

    The deadline to enter is March 26. Pick up a registration packet at any Walnut Creek library or online at www.wclibrary.org/contest/

    Submit School Notes items to enardi@bayareanewsgroup.com. Contact Elisabeth Nardi at 925-952-2617.