Three Los Alamos high school students win National Speech & Debate Association’s American Academic Award – Los Alamos Reporter

LAHS Hilltalkers Dana Roelefs, Yunseo Kim and Olivia Koo have won the National Speech & Debate Association’s American Academic Award. Less than 1% of the more than 141,000 student members of the association obtain this prestigious award. Photo courtesy LAPS


Three members of the Los Alamos High School Speech and Debate Team have won the National Speech & Debate Association’s American Academic Award. Recent graduates Olivia Koo and Dana Roelefs and Yunseo Kim, the rising senior, have been selected to receive this coveted award which recognizes academic rigor, successful speeches and competitive debates, and personal excellence.

“Of more than 141,000 student members of the National Speech & Debate Association, less than 1% of students win the Academic All American award each year,” Executive Director J. Scott Wunn noted in a letter to LAHS Principal Carter Payne. announcing this year’s winners. This tremendous achievement places your students in the top 1% of all students in the country. »

“I’m so proud of Dana, Olivia and Yunseo,” Hilltalkers coach Margo Batha said. “These three young women are strong leaders for all of our Hilltalkers and they use their speaking skills in leadership positions in their other extracurricular activities. They are an asset to Los Alamos High School.

All three have been involved in Speech & Debate since starting high school. Kim was first introduced to the program as a seventh grader at Los Alamos Middle School.

“Speech & Debate has given me an incredible opportunity to expand my view of the world, and it has inspired me to one day become a strong advocate for voices that need to be amplified,” she said.

Roelefs, like Yunseo, was a member of the Hawktalkers speech and debate team at Los Alamos Middle School.

“Speaking and debating were not only central to many of the friendships I made in high school, but it really allowed me to challenge myself beyond my comfort zone and use my voice,” Koo said. “I loved being able to share my message and listen and appreciate the hard work of others through their own speeches.”

The students said they were honored to receive this award and grateful to Coach Batha.

“She has guided us through an incredibly difficult pandemic year, and she continues to help us achieve our goals,” Kim said.

“There’s something for everyone,” Koo said. “Whether you want to try acting but don’t have time for rehearsals or want to perform a different piece, learn the inner workings of current issues and how to win arguments, or learn to write your own speech on something you want to talk about, Speech and Debate will give you the space to stretch and dedicate yourself, with great teammates who want to do the same.

Kim added: “My advice to others considering speaking and debating would be not to worry about what those around you are doing or saying because everyone is different and we all walk different, unique paths. If you have something you love and want to make a difference, you will definitely have a great time in Speech & Debate.

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