Student Recognition

Student members of the National Speech & Debate Association compete throughout the school year, but tournament wins and Honor Society points are just part of the recognition received from our organization!

All Americans

Each year, the top student point earners in the country are named All Americans. The All American award is based on a combination of competitive and service points, of which no more than 25% of the point total can include service. In order to qualify, a student must have competed once at Nationals. Following the National Speech & Debate Tournament, the 25 students with the highest total points in our Honor Society receive this recognition. No application is required to receive this award.

Congratulations to Jacob Thompson from Des Moines Roosevelt High School in Iowa for being named the top point earner in 2016-2017!

Academic All Americans

The Academic All American award recognizes high school students who have earned the degree of Superior Distinction (750 points); completed at least 5 semesters of high school; demonstrated outstanding character and leadership; and earned a GPA of 3.7 on a 4.0 scale (or its equivalent). NOTE: If the GPA is between 3.5 and 3.7 on a 4.0 scale (or its equivalent), students also must have received an ACT score of 27 or higher, or a New SAT score of 1300 or higher.

If a student is eligible, coaches will see a yellow box with “AAA?” under the Awards column on their Student Roster.

District Student of the Year

The District Student of the Year award is presented to a graduating senior in each district who best represents the tenets of the Association’s Code of Honor: integrity, respect, humility, leadership, and service. Nominees must also demonstrate strong academic credentials and a commitment to the speech and debate community. Each year, six students who win the district award are selected as finalists for the William Woods Tate, Jr., National Student of the Year award.

2019 Recipients

Deep South (AL) • James Torbert • The Montgomery Academy

Arizona • Alison Cohen • Chandler Preparatory Academy

Arkansas • Alex Martin • Episcopal Collegiate School

Big Valley (CA) • Trinity Bergen • Delta Charter HS

San Fran Bay (CA) • Evelyn Kuo • James Logan HS

Colorado • Esther Varghese • Eaglecrest HS

Colorado Grande • Caelen Burand • Centennial HS

Rocky Mountain – South (CO) • Jacob Stock • Lakewood HS

Western Slope (CO) • Michael Wilson • Fruita Monument HS

Florida Oceanfront • Michael Bole • Dreyfoos School Of The Arts

Florida South • Oliver Stern • Ransom Everglades School

Georgia Southern Peach • Mariah Cady • Columbus HS

Hawaii • Jasci-Ann Fikany • Aiea HS

Idaho Gem of the Mountain • Preston Marispini • Renaissance HS

Idaho Mountain River • Alyson Corgatelli • Rigby HS

Greater Illinois • James Han • University HS

Hoosier Heartland (IN) • Josiah Richey • Logansport HS

Northeast Indiana (IN) • Grace Bechdol • Canterbury HS

East Iowa • Emily Robinson • John F. Kennedy HS

East Kansas • Nicholas Wallenburg • Shawnee Mission West HS

Sunflower (KS) • Samuel Harder • Maize South HS

Three Trails (KS) • Mickey McMahon • Blue Valley North HS

Louisiana • Blake Ziegler • Holy Cross School

Maine • Caitlyn Bull • Falmouth HS

Chesapeake (MD) • Amaris Hester • Marriotts Ridge HS

New England (MA & NH) • Paulina Hruskoci • Shrewsbury HS

Central Minnesota • Ethan Mirman • Minnetonka HS

Southern Minnesota • Michelle Quan • Rosemount Sr. HS

Magnolia (MS) • Austin Brown • Ridgeland HS

Eastern Missouri • William Polster • Pattonville HS

Show Me (MO) • Jacob Gose • Rockhurst HS

Montana • Michael McKay • Corvallis HS

Nebraska • Joanna Bai • Millard West HS

Nebraska South • Kate Millington • Norris Public Schools

Golden Desert (NV) • Sophie Mallas • Palo Verde HS

Sagebrush (NV) • Vanessa Ribeiro • Spanish Springs HS

New Jersey • Christopher Maximos • Delbarton School

New Mexico • Adelyn Moore • La Cueva HS

New York City • Esmeralda Reyes • Achievement First Brooklyn HS

Carolina West (NC) • Gayatri Chopra • Providence HS

Tarheel East (NC) • Deandra Simpson • Cumberland Int’l Early College HS

North Dakota Roughrider • Juliet Geffre • Fargo Shanley HS

North Coast (OH) • Julia Lynn • Laurel School

Northern Ohio • Evan Gallo • Columbiana HS

East Oklahoma • Jalen Davis • Tulsa School Arts & Sciences

West Oklahoma • Christine Nguyen • Edmond Santa Fe HS

North Oregon • Katie Card • Gresham-Barlow HS

South Oregon • Cristien Hernandez • South Medford HS

Pennsylvania • Bree Gray • Trinity HS

Valley Forge (PA) • Lena Lofgren • Strath Haven HS

South Carolina • Ian Chiu • Riverside HS

Rushmore (SD) • Seamus Duffy • O’Gorman HS

Tennessee • Pedro Reyes • Morristown West HS

Central Texas • Saskia Reford • Saint Mary’s Hall HS

East Texas • Hanaa Irfan • Klein HS

Gulf Coast (TX) • John Duncan • Harlingen HS South

Heart of Texas • Rene Otero • Hendrickson HS

Lone Star (TX) • Jacqueline Wei • Plano West Sr. HS

North Texas Longhorns • Jada Bourne • Keller HS

Space City (TX) • Hunter Brown • Spring Woods HS

Tall Cotton (TX) • Trent Collins • Borden County HS

UIL (TX) • Ashlyn Ellgass • Lindale HS

West Texas • Michelle Guevara • Ysleta HS

Yellow Rose (TX) • Christopher Malhas • Princeton HS

Virginia • Suditi Shyamsunder • John Handley HS

Western Washington • Joseph Ribera • Tahoma Senior HS

Northern Wisconsin • Jackson Kloes • Étude HS

Wind River (WY) • Taliah Blom • Natrona County HS

William Woods Tate, Jr., National Student of the Year

The 2018 William Woods Tate, Jr., National Student of the Year is Elena Cecil from Larue County High School in Kentucky. Elena was selected by a panel of coaches for her character, passion, and dedication to serving her community.

IN THEIR WORDS | “Speech and debate is not about the trophies. I was not the most successful. I never won first place at any tournament in my entire career. Not once. That wasn’t what mattered to me. It was about the people you meet and the way speech helps kids change. Everyone says speech and debate is like a big family, and for me it’s also really my family, but I think that’s true. You find your people. You meet people from all different backgrounds with all different perspectives and that opens a whole new world of learning. I know that there isn’t a single activity out there that has ever made me feel as at home as speech did. I’ve tried it all and been involved in a lot and there wasn’t anything out there that does what speech does for kids, that makes them feel as important, or as wanted, or as heard as speech does. I have seen speech and debate change lives. Witnessing that all my life is a privilege I’ve been lucky to have.” Read more about Elena »

Ricardo Flores

About the Award

This annual award recognizes one individual out of more than 150,000 student members who best embodies the organization’s Code of Honor: integrity, humility, respect, leadership, and service. Nominees must also demonstrate strong academic credentials and a commitment to the speech and debate community. Six finalists interview with an esteemed panel of educators during the National Speech & Debate Tournament, and the National Student of the Year is announced during the National Awards Assembly. Watch the video »

Previous Recipients

Find out Where Are They Now? in this article from the 2017 November/December issue of Rostrum magazine.

Elena Cecil

2018 – Elena Cecil
Larue County HS, KY

Ricardo Flores

2017 – Ricardo Flores
Americas HS, TX

Marshall Webb

2016 – Marshall Webb
Saint Mary’s Hall HS, TX

Jarrius Adams

2015 – Jarrius Adams
Hattiesburg HS, MS

Walter Paul

2014 – Walter Paul
Creighton Preparatory, NE

Robert Shaw

2013 – Robert Shaw
Glenbrook South HS, IL

Quinlan Cao

2012 – Quinlan Cao
East Mountain HS, NM

Taylor Walker

2011 – Taylor Walker
Henry W. Grady HS, GA

Cory Williams

2010 – Cory Williams
Hattiesburg HS, MS

Danielle Camous

2009 – Danielle Camous
St. Mary’s HS, CO

Kyle Akerman

2008 – Kyle Akerman
Downers Grove South HS, IL

National Exemplary Student Service Award

The 2019 National Exemplary Student Service Award recipient is Madeline Gochee from Lincoln High School in Oregon. Madeline was selected for helping to organize a student-wide walkout for gun reform at her school and for her service with Mission: Citizen and the Teen Council of Planned Parenthood.

Read the nominating essay »

Madeline Gochee

About the Award

Introduced in 2017, the National Exemplary Student Service Award is given annually to a student who serves their school, community, city, region, or state using skills they honed through speech and debate. Coaches or administrators may nominate a student who upholds the highest standard of service, one of the core tenets of the Association’s Code of Honor, for recognition. As opposed to the William Woods Tate, Jr., National Student of the Year Award, current member students of any age are eligible for nomination.

Nominations for the current school year were accepted from coaches or administrators through February 7, 2019. The nomination form will reopen in January 2020 for the following school year.

Learn more about service and service points in this guide.

Graduation Honor Cords

The National Speech & Debate Association is proud to offer honor cords for its members to wear during high school graduation ceremonies. Honor cords recognize member accomplishments and affirm their commitment to speech and debate education.

Please visit our online store to place an order for Association honor cords, or a letter to principals in support of Association honor cords from Executive Director J. Scott Wunn.

Looking for more recognition?

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