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Great Bend High School celebrates National Speech and Debate Education Day
Bayle Sandy and Patrick Heath were recently named Academic All Americans by the National Speech & Debate Association.

The Great Bend High School Forensics and Debate Team will celebrate National Speech and Debate Education Day on Friday, March 1.

National Speech and Debate Education Day was created by the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) Honor Society to recognize and celebrate the positive impact of speech and debate activities on students, schools, and communities. The NSDA is the largest, interscholastic organization of students in the United States. For 90 years, it has empowered its members to become engaged citizens, skilled professionals and honorable leaders in our society. On March 1, there will be more than 1.5 million speech and debate alumni celebrating speech and debate education nationwide.  

“National Speech and Debate Education day is a wonderful opportunity to recognize our students for what they are doing and to thank the community for the support that they have given,” said Kim Heath, Panther debate and forensics coach.

As part of this event, the GBHS Forensics team recognizes their latest National Speech and Debate Association Academic All-Americans. Only 1 percent of NSDA member students will receive this prestigious award. This distinguished award recognizes students who have completed at least five semesters of high school, earned at least 750 merit points in their Honor Society, achieved rigorous academic criteria, and demonstrated outstanding character and leadership. Patrick Heath and Bayle Sandy have been selected for this achievement.

“I am so proud of Patrick and Bayle,” said coach Heath, “Not only are they being named Academic All-Americans, but they are also achieving this recognition during their junior year. This spotlights their high level of commitment to this activity and to their team.

“Both Patrick and Bayle were fortunate enough to have retired debate and forensics coach Barbara Watson during their first two years of high school,” she continued. “Mrs. Watson was an outstanding educator who helped her students be very successful in their debate and forensic competitions for many years at Great Bend High School. This winning tradition continues through students like Patrick and Bayle.”

High school speech activities teach students the so-called “soft skills” the employers say they need in their employees, she said.

“Not only has debate and forensics helped me in public speaking, theater and argumentation, but it has transformed my ability to organize and my work ethic,” Patrick Heath said. “These skills, and the many others I have learned along the way, have changed my life forever. I thank my coaches and the National Speech and Debate Association for giving me the opportunity to gain abilities that I will use for the rest of my life.”

“Speech and debate changes lives,” said J. Scott Wunn, executive director of the National Speech and Debate Association. “From increased attendance to higher test scores and a rise in college acceptance, speech and debate prepares young people for college, the work force, and beyond.”

Bayle Sandy summed up the power of this activity best when she noted, “Speech and debate have changed my life and expanded my horizons by teaching me to constantly test my limits, to never give up on myself, and inspire others around me. These lessons, along with many others, have prepared me for any challenge I might face even when it is not in a classroom.”

From local celebrations to the halls of Congress in Washington, D.C., the educational value of speech and debate will be celebrated near and far on March 1. In addition to special events and programs, thousands will share personal stories of how speech and debate changed their life on social media using #WeAreSpeechAndDebate.

The GBHS Panther forensics team will compete at Moundridge on Saturday, March 2.