School Recognition

The National Speech & Debate Association highlights the academic value of speech and debate activities within school systems. Every year, schools from across the country are awarded for their commitment to speech and debate activities and the learning opportunities they provide to their students.

Charter Status

Becoming a charter chapter is the highest honor for high schools in the NSDA. A chapter is chartered after enrolling at least 50 degrees within a three-year period of membership. Small schools with 9th-12th grade enrollment of fewer than 500 students must enroll at least 25 degrees within a three-year period. If a charter chapter does not meet the minimum three-year strength requirements, it can apply for a one-year extension, or it reverts to member chapter status.

New high schools earning charter status will receive this plaque automatically. High schools that previously earned a paper charter have the option to purchase a plaque as well.

Charter Plaque

Leading Chapter Award

Each year the top chapter in accumulated members and degrees, not more than one per district, receives the Leading Chapter Award. Leading Chapter schools are recognized based on student participation throughout the school year. Schools earning the Leading Chapter Award must have previously achieved Charter School Status in the National Speech & Debate Association. The award is presented at the district tournament. These speech and debate programs serve as an inspiration for new teams around the United States.

Top 100 Schools

Each year, the 100 chapters with the largest number of new degrees receive the Top 100 Schools designation.

Bruno E. Jacob Trophy

The Bruno E. Jacob/Pi Kappa Delta Trophy is given to the school with the largest number of cumulative rounds at the National Speech & Debate Tournament. Each student in each round of a main event at Nationals counts as one point, and a school’s total is only reset when they win the trophy.

Previous Recipients

2018 Moorhead High School, MN 1,802 pts
2017 Gabrielino High School, CA 1,773 pts
2016 Leland High School, CA 1,674 pts
2015 Cherry Creek High School, CO 1,639 pts
2014 Nova High School, FL 1,554 pts

2018 Recipients – Moorhead High School, Minnesota

Club Awards

Club awards demonstrate outstanding commitment to teaching students essential life skills—including communication, research, listening, writing, and organization. Every year, schools can earn club awards for achieving degrees in the Honor Society. For example, The 100 Club recognizes a school that had a strength of over 100 points. The 200 Club honors a school that earned 200 strength points; and so on. Club Award schools may purchase the Club Award Plaque or Desk Award to recognize their achievement.

Club Award - Plaque
Club Award - Desk Award

High School Administrator of the Year Award

The 2019 NSDA High School Administrator of the Year is Lawrence E. Wall, Jr., Head of Upper School at Charlotte Latin School in North Carolina. He was nominated for “his genuine interest in forensics and for his fathomless support of it.”

FROM THE NOMINATING ESSAY | “[Mr. Wall] understands speech and debate deeply because of his own career as a state champion orator and Policy debater at Selma High School in Alabama in the early 1980s. Coached by none other than the legendary Billy Tate, his stories about the exploits of those teams are riotously funny… Beyond these emotional connections, Mr. Wall is a fierce advocate for every kind of support for our program… Frequently I have conversations with [him] about individual students he believes would be a good fit for the program… He believes in the power of forensics as an intervention for struggling kids and has thus brought me some of my most rewarding students to teach through those referrals.” — Jonathan Peele, Director of Forensics, Charlotte Latin School, North Carolina

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D. Scott Looney

About the Award

The National Speech & Debate Association’s High School Administrator of the Year program began in 2011 as a means to recognize outstanding high school principals and administrators. The program annually honors administrators who have succeeded in providing high-quality opportunities for students in speech and debate programming as well as demonstrating exemplary contributions to the profession.

Selection Process

Each District Committee may award a District High School Administrator of the Year to a deserving individual in their district, and from those district-level award winners, a National High School Administrator of the Year is selected.

To be eligible for nomination, an administrator must:

  • Currently work as a high school principal or headmaster in a National Speech & Debate Association member school.
  • Have completed five consecutive years of experience as a high school administrator at an NSDA member school (experience need not be in the same school).
  • Plan to continue working as a high school administrator next year at an NSDA member school.
  • Agree to nomination.
  • If selected as the winner, be able to participate in the National Speech & Debate Tournament, held June 16-21, 2019, and/or be present to accept the award on Thursday, June 20, in Dallas, Texas.

Nominees must be administrators who:

  • Encourage speech and debate education through active support of curricular and/or co-curricular programming.
  • Foster cooperation between the speech and debate program and the rest of the school, showcasing students and their achievements with administrators, school board members, and the community at-large.
  • Lead a continuing dialogue with students, parents, faculty, and staff members to sustain and grow speech and debate participation.
  • Encourage team spirit and play an active role in the speech and debate program.
  • Demonstrate leadership and exemplify committed support to the speech and debate program’s livelihood.
  • Advocate for speech and debate activities within the school and the community at-large.

As part of the district-level nomination process, nominators will be asked to provide a nomination letter and basic contact information using the online form. Administrators may be nominated by their students, coaches, team parents, and/or community members. Administrators may not nominate themselves. Submitted nominations will be provided to district chairs for review by their committees.

From the submitted administrators, each District Committee will select their District Administrator of the Year. The district-level award winners will be reviewed by a selection committee comprised of members of the National Speech & Debate Association Board of Directors and the Executive Director.

District-level award winners must be submitted by April 16, 2019. The National Speech & Debate Association’s High School Administrator of the Year award recipient will be announced May 7, 2019.

The High School Administrator of the Year will be recognized in Rostrum and online. Nominees and finalists may be recognized in Rostrum or through other publications. All nominees and nominators must consent to the use of any nomination materials including photos in NSDA publications.

Previous Recipients

Lawrence E. Wall, Jr.

2019 – Lawrence E. Wall, Jr.
Charlotte Latin School, NC

D. Scott Looney

2018 – D. Scoot Looney
Hawken School, OH

Austin Brown

2017 – Austin Brown
Madison Central High School, MS

Michael O'Toole

2016 – Michael O’Toole
La Salle College High School, PA

Dr. Joseph H. Murry, Jr.

2015 – Dr. Joseph H. Murry, Jr.
Holy Cross School, LA

Dr. Polly Reikowski

2014 – Dr. Polly Reikowski
Eagan High School, MN

Dr. S. Douglas Wine

2013 – Dr. Douglas S. Wine
East Mountain High School, NM

John LaCasse

2012 – John LaCasse
Nova High School, FL

Liz Chamberlin

2011 – Liz Chamberlin
Leland High School, CA

Middle School Administrator of the Year Award

The 2019 NSDA Middle School Administrator of the Year is Brad Berrett, principal of Computech Middle School in California. Brad was nominated for leading with compassion and understanding. He has offered unwavering support to performing arts programs, including forensics.

FROM THE NOMINATING ESSAY | “Mr. Berrett makes a concerted, deliberate effort to attend all events at our school. He was proud to serve our speech and debate team as a judge at the speech competition we hosted for the Redwood Middle School Region in October… Because of the unfailing support of our administration, the middle school level forensic program in our district has flourished and two other schools are able to offer speech and debate classes… Mr. Berrett celebrates with our team and offers sincere encouragement.” — Rachel L. Hibler, Advisor, The Computech Theatre Company, Computech Middle School, California

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Brad Berrett

About the Award

The National Speech & Debate Association’s Middle School Administrator of the Year program began in 2016 as a means to recognize outstanding middle school principals and administrators. The program annually honors administrators who have succeeded in providing high-quality opportunities for students in speech and debate programming as well as demonstrating exemplary contributions to the profession.

Selection Process

A selection committee comprised of members of the National Speech & Debate Association Board of Directors and the Executive Director reviews nominations submitted by member schools.

To be eligible for nomination, an administrator must:

  • Currently work as a middle school principal or headmaster in a National Speech & Debate Association member school.
  • Have completed five consecutive years of experience as a middle school administrator at an NSDA member school (experience need not be in the same school).
  • Plan to continue working as a high school administrator next year at an NSDA member school.
  • Agree to nomination.
  • If selected as the winner, be able to participate in the National Speech & Debate Tournament, held June 16-21, 2019, and/or be present to accept the award on Thursday, June 20, in Dallas, Texas.

Nominees must be administrators who:

  • Encourage speech and debate education through active support of curricular and/or co-curricular programming.
  • Foster cooperation between the speech and debate program and the rest of the school, showcasing students and their achievements with administrators, school board members, and the community at-large.
  • Lead a continuing dialogue with students, parents, faculty, and staff members to sustain and grow speech and debate participation.
  • Encourage team spirit and play an active role in the speech and debate program.
  • Demonstrate leadership and exemplify committed support to the speech and debate program’s livelihood.
  • Advocate for speech and debate activities within the school and the community at-large.

As part of the nomination process, nominators will be asked to provide a nomination letter and basic contact information using the online form. Administrators may be nominated by their students, coaches, team parents, and/or community members. Administrators may not nominate themselves.

Nomination materials will be reviewed by a selection committee comprised of members of the National Speech & Debate Association Board of Directors and the Executive Director.

Nominations must be submitted by April 16, 2019. The National Speech & Debate Association’s Middle School Administrator of the Year award recipient will be announced May 7, 2019.

The Middle School Administrator of the Year will be recognized in Rostrum and online. Nominees and finalists may be recognized in Rostrum or through other publications. All nominees and nominators must consent to the use of any nomination materials including photos in NSDA publications.

Previous Recipients

Brad Berrett

2019 – Brad Berrett
Computech Middle School, CA

Errol Evans

2018 – Errol Evans
Attucks Middle School, FL

Donald Clayton

2017 – Donald Clayton
Mountain Brook Junior High School, AL

Carlos Castillo

2016 – Carlos Castillo
Wawona Middle School and Bullard High School, CA

School Awards

A variety of school awards are awarded annually to the top schools at the National Tournament:

Schools of Outstanding Distinction – recognizes the top 10 schools after combining both speech and debate points (must score points in both divisions).

Speech Schools of Excellence – recognizes the top 20 schools in total speech points that did not win a School of Outstanding Distinction Award.

Debate Schools of Excellence – recognizes the top 20 schools in total debate points that did not win a School of Outstanding Distinction Award.

Speech Schools of Honor – recognizes the top 21-40 schools in total speech points that did not win a School of Outstanding Distinction Award.

Debate Schools of Honor – recognizes the top 21-40 schools in total debate points that did not win a School of Outstanding Distinction Award.

Outstanding School Achievement – school administrators of the top six individuals or teams in each main event are sent an Outstanding School Achievement plaque, personalized with students’ names, school, event, place, and year.

2018 Schools of Outstanding Distinction

Apple Valley High School, MN
Archbishop Mitty High School, CA
Cypress Bay High School, FL
Eagan High School, MN
ILEAD North Hollywood, CA
Miramonte High School, CA
Munster High School, IN
Plano West Sr. High School, TX
Riverside High School, SC
Seven Lakes High School, TX

Senator Karl E. Mundt Sweepstakes Trophy

The Karl Mundt Trophy, awarded since the first National Student Congress in 1938, is presented to the school with the largest number of cumulative participation points in Congressional Debate at the National Tournament.

Previous Recipients

2018 Syosset High School, NY 223 pts
2017 Ridge High School, NJ 213 pts
2016 Belen Jesuit Prep School, FL 200 pts
2015 Desert Vista High School, AZ 233 pts
2014 Nova High School, FL 207 pts

The Unger Cup

This annual award, named in honor of one of America’s finest debaters and coaches, James Unger, is awarded to the school whose Policy Debate team places highest in six national tournaments: the National Speech & Debate Tournament; the National Catholic Forensic League; the NAUDL Chase Urban Debate National Championship; the University of Kentucky Tournament of Champions (TOC); the New York University International Public Policy Forum tournament (IPPF); and the National Debate Coaches Association (NDCA).

Previous Recipients

2018 Blue Valley Southwest High School, KS
2017 Palos Verdes Peninsula High School, CA
2016 Palos Verdes Peninsula High School, CA
2015 Glenbrook North High School, IL
2014 Glenbrook South High School, IL

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