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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 Olivia Wetzel from Whitmer High School in Ohio for being named the top point earner in 2020-2021!  All American Recipients ».

Olivia Wetzel

Olivia Wetzel – 2020-2021 Top Point Earner

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. Students may apply through August 1 in the year they graduate. For example, if a student graduates in May 2020, they have until August 1, 2020 to apply for the AAA Award.


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

Each NSDA District has the opportunity to name a District Student of the Year. Coaches may nominate a graduating senior who best represents the tenets of the Association’s Code of Honor: humility, equity, integrity, respect, leadership, and service.

Each year, the top students who win the district award are selected as finalists for the William Woods Tate, Jr., National Student of the Year award. Finalists interview with an esteemed panel, and the National Student of the Year is announced during the National Awards Assembly.

2021 Recipients

Deep South (AL) • Marielle Cornes • Mountain Brook HS

Arkansas • Anna Dean • Bentonville West HS

California Coast • Eric Lee • Monta Vista HS

East Los Angeles (CA) • Noemi Liu • Gabrielino HS

Southern California • Lucas Osborn • Helix Charter HS

West Los Angeles (CA) • Jessica Tuchin • The Archer School for Girls

Colorado • Vivek Shah • Kent Denver HS

Colorado Grande • Tayva Anderson • Air Academy HS

Rocky Mountain – South (CO) • Kyla Dominguez • Strive Prep Smart

Florida Manatee • Ariel Arias • NSU University School

Florida Oceanfront • Nirmit Chandan • A. W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts

Florida Panther • Brianna Ramnath • Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy

Florida Sunshine • Grace Kim • Pine View School

Georgia Northern Mountain • George Lefkowicz • Henry W. Grady HS

Georgia Southern Peach • Alec Siek • Carrollton HS

Idaho Gem of the Mountain • Oam Patel • Mountain Home HS

Idaho Mountain River • Daniel Whisman • American Falls HS

Greater Illinois • Yvin Shin • University HS

Illini (IL) • Noor Mryan • Hinsdale Central HS

Northern Illinois • Elijah Ruano • Antioch Community HS

Hoosier Crossroads (IN) • Andrew de las Alas • Cathedral HS

Hoosier Heartland (IN) • Macy Meunier • Noblesville HS

Northeast Indiana • Liam Row • Bishop Dwenger HS

Northwest Indiana • Lily Roberts • Chesterton HS

West Iowa • Troy Roach • Atlantic HS

East Kansas • Jaleon Brown • Sumner Academy

South Kansas • Hannah Eckstein • Frontenac HS

Three Trails (KS) • Jonah Muro • Spring Hill HS

West Kansas • Tiana Marion • Salina South HS

Kentucky • Lindsey Guilford • Henry Clay HS

Louisiana • Blythe Castille • St. Thomas More HS

Maine • Danielle Whyte • Cheverus HS

Chesapeake (MD) • Eli Glickman • Bethesda Chevy Chase HS

New England (MA) • Nikhil Sadavarte • Shrewsbury HS

Central Minnesota • Ben Lu • Woodbury HS

Northern Lights (MN) • Cobin Szymanski • St. Michael-Albertville HS

Southern Minnesota • Tanvi Adige • Rosemount HS

Magnolia (MS) • Anna Kang • Oxford HS

Carver-Truman (MO) • Ben Verstraete • Monett HS

Eastern Missouri • Mya Harris • Pattonville HS

Heart of America (MO) • Hadley Brillhart • Truman HS

Ozark (MO) • Tanner Ladouceur • Willard HS

Show Me (MO) • Hannah Lytle • Grain Valley HS

Montana East • Macy Thompson • Bozeman HS

Montana West • Erin Heaton • Capital HS – Helena

Nebraska • Kenny Zhu • MIllard North HS

Nebraska South • Josh Lee • Lincoln East HS

Golden Desert (NV) • Caden Denning • Coral Academy of Science Las Vegas

New Jersey • Akshat Parthiban • Thomas Edison EnergySmart Charter School

New Mexico • Shena Han • Los Alamos HS

Iroquois (VT) • Neil Rohan • Montpelier HS

Carolina West (NC) • Connor Deir • Providence HS

Tarheel East (NC) • Anna Brent-Levenstein • Durham Academy

North Dakota Roughrider • Luke Plagens • Valley City HS

North Coast (OH) • Allie Dettelbach • Hawken School

West Oklahoma • Cecilia Alali • Westmoore HS

North Oregon • Alyssa Elwell • Sam Barlow HS

South Oregon • Madeline Deleon • Marshfield HS

Pittsburgh • Maddie Nolen • Upper St. Clair HS

Valley Forge (PA) • Sahiba Tandon • Gwynedd Mercy Academy

South Carolina • Laurel Holley • Riverside HS

Northern South Dakota • Andrew Calhoon • Lennox HS

Rushmore (SD) • Catherine Liu • Washington HS

Tennessee • Nelson Rose • Brentwood HS

East Texas • Hadley Adkison • Grand Oaks HS

Gulf Coast (TX) • Genevieve Cox • W. B. Ray HS

Heart of Texas • Connor Snow • James Bowie HS

LBJ (TX) • Nidhi Sonwalkar • Centennial HS

Lone Star (TX) • Joshua Timmons • Greenhill School

Space City (TX) • Ethan Jiang • Seven Lakes HS

Tall Cotton (TX) • Grant Denny • Amarillo HS

UIL (TX) • Reid Pinckard • Mount Pleasant HS

West Texas • Kayla Saucedo • Americas HS

Yellow Rose (TX) • Kristen Orsak • Center HS

Sundance (UT) • Sarah Roundy • Westlake HS

Virginia • Urunna Anyanwu • William Byrd HS

Inland Empire (ID) • Audra Totten • Chiawana HS

Puget Sound (WA) • Ausha Curry • Mount Vernon HS

Western Washington • Allen Benjamin Tugade • Thomas Jefferson HS

Southern Wisconsin • Jovan Hernandez • Bradley Tech HS

Hole in the Wall (WY) • YuYu Yuan • Cheyenne East HS

Wind River (WY) • Joshua Hansen • Jackson HS

Joanna Bai
2019 – Joanna Bai
Millard West HS, NE
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

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

The 2021 William Woods Tate, Jr., National Student of the Year is Cobin Szymanski from St. Michael-Albertville High School in Minnesota. Cobin was selected by a panel of coaches for their character, leadership, and commitment to bettering their community.

In Their Words: “Through speech and debate, I learned what it means to advocate against and navigate through systems of oppression. I learned what it means to belong.” – Cobin Szymanski

2021 Student of the Year Cobin Szymanski

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.

Speaking and Service Award

The Speaking and Service Award annually recognizes students who go above and beyond in their service to their teams, schools, and communities. Students receive this award when they earn 200 service points in a given year, the maximum number possible in a school year in our Honor Society. 

Learn More

This award replaces the NSDA Exemplary Student Service Award. To earn the 2021-2022 Speaking and Service Award, students must earn 200 service points between August 1, 2021 and July 31, 2022. No application process is required. Current member students of all ages are eligible.

If an advisor or coach with designated permissions deems an activity as eligible for service points, they may enter them as they would points for competition. Each approximate hour of activity should be treated as two points. Students can earn up to 20 service points per day. Points are entered in increments of one and fall under two categories, speaking (for an audience of 5+ adults) and non-speaking. Learn more about points entry.

2020 Exemplary Student Service Award Winner - Aryaman Sharma

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 are accepted from coaches or administrators through January 21, 2020.

Learn more about service and service points in this guide.

Honoring Member Students and Graduates

There are many ways to recognize a student’s commitment to speech and debate via honor society insignia and graduation items.
Student members can be awarded a jeweled pin or pendant commensurate with their achievement in the NSDA honor society.
The National Speech & Debate Association is also 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 honor cords. If necessary, use this letter to principals in support of NSDA honor cords from Executive Director J. Scott Wunn.

Looking for more recognition?

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