Southeast Debate/Forensics named among top 10% nationwide


The Southeast Debate/Forensics learned on Wednesday that the National Speech and Debate Association has ranked them among the top 10% of schools nationwide. The honor came after the team amassed over 100 degrees last year, earning membership in the NSDA’s prestigious 100 Club.

Students earn points and Degrees in the NSDA’s honor society based on competitive and service-related activities. Degrees range from the Degree of Merit at 25 points to the Degree of Premier Distinction at 1,500 points. Last year, Southeast earned 36 new degrees surpassing the century mark for the second consecutive year.

“It was our strongest year in a while – we’ve earned the honor before but I can’t remember the last year we won it,” says Gary Leiker, the Coach for the Southeast Debate/Forensics Team. “It’s a goal of mine every year and I was thrilled to see us reach it.”

“This ranking is definitely a great honor for our high school,” says Debbie Clawson, Southeast High School Vice Principal and Curriculum Director. “The accomplishments of our Debate/Forensics students are particularly significant because those communication skills demonstrated are critical to successful careers in the future. While many employees can complete tasks well, the ability to communicate effectively makes the difference between an adequate employee and an outstanding one.”

“This milestone is remarkable because it demonstrates outstanding commitment to teaching students essential life skills—including communication, research, listening, writing, and organization,” says NSDA Executive Director J. Scott Wunn.

“I believe we were able to earn this honor because we had a good group of kids who were committed to working hard and achieving greatness,” says Mr. Leiker. “They believed they could succeed, both individually and as a team. They learned it doesn’t matter how big of a school you come from. If you believe in yourself and are willing to work hard, you can be successful. It was a great year, but we’re already looking forward to building on that success this year.”

The more students participate and the more they excel the more points and Degrees they earn for themselves and their squad. But once a student graduates the team loses the Degrees they earned.
“I lost three very successful seniors last year, and so we actually began this year with only 55 Degrees – that means we need to earn 45 Degrees this year to earn membership in the 100 Club again,” says Leiker. “That’s a tall order, but we are already on our way having earned 7 new Degrees this year.”

Southeast will be hosting a tournament on October 24-25. Leiker says it is a two-day open division, one-day novice division tournament. Anyone interested in being a judge should contact Gary Leiker at Southeast High School. Email him directly at or call the school and leave a message for him at 620-457-8365.

The NSDA, formerly known as the National Forensic League, was founded in 1925 and has had more than 2 million members since then.

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