The National Speech and Debate Association and Forensic League notified Lovell High School by mail this month that Anthony Ballard has earned the National Speech and Debate Association’s Academic All-American award. According to the letter, the award recognizes academic rigor, competitive speech and debate success and personal excellence.
Deb Fink, head coach for the school’s speech and debate team, said she is proud of the hard work and accomplishments of Ballard, who has been a member of the team since his sophomore year.
The distinguished award, which Fink referred to as “a very big deal,” recognizes students who have earned the degree of superior distinction in the organization’s honor society by earning 750 or more merit points, along with a GPA of 3.7 or above, excellent test scores and “outstanding character and leadership.”
Ballard is the second student from the team to receive the award. Fink said no other students from her team have won the award since it was established roughly 10 years ago.
Ballard served as salutatorian for his class at this week’s graduation ceremony. He maintained a 3.9 grade point average in his high school career, participating not only in the school’s speech and debate program but in the Wyoming Academic Challenge and in the activities of the school’s newly formed chess club. He is also a member of the National Honor Society.
Ballard said he regrets not joining the speech and debate team in his freshman year but is grateful to his friend Daniel Hawley, who encouraged him to join in his sophomore year. He said he tried a number of different events at first but eventually found competing in Congress and the Lincoln-Douglas event to be most to his liking.
“I like the fact that you have to do a lot of research in these events,” he said. “You also get to hear a lot of different viewpoints, especially in Congress, and I like that, too. I think LD forces you to grasp the philosophy of a subject and how it will affect other things. It allows for a lot of creativity, too.”
Ballard said the program allowed him to make a lot of new friends, including friends from other schools across the state. He said he feels he can get his ideas across “in a much more fluid” manner and that it has made him more concise in expressing ideas. He said it thinks it will help in the future, especially in job interviews.
Fink said she wishes she would have had Ballard in the speech and debate program for one more year.
“I saw so much growth in him after he joined us,” said Fink. “He’s been a real asset to the team.”
Ballard plans to study archeology at the University of Wyoming.
By Patti Carpenter