For four years Alex Van Kuiken and Riley Wilson have piled up honors in Speech and Debate at Grand Rapids City High School. They have earned awards at League and State levels; they have competed at the National Tournament; and they have also served in the community, on the Mayor’s Youth Council (Wilson) and as a tutor at City (Van Kuiken).

On Wednesday, May 8, they received another honor, the National Speech & Debate Association’s Academic All American award. This award was given at an evening Awards program for Speech and Debate at City.

This Academic All-American award recognizes students who have completed at least five semesters of high school; earned the degree of Superior Distinction in our Honor Society (a total of 750 or more merit points); achieved rigorous criteria for GPA and/or test score requirements; and demonstrated outstanding character and leadership.

While the National Speech & Debate Association has more than 141,000 student members, fewer than 1,000 students earn the Academic All American award every year.

Each year at City Speech and Debate activities will touch nearly 10 percent of the total middle school and high school body. In 2019, Grand Rapids City High qualified 7 entries to the national tournament, and took 6th place for C/D schools at the State Forensics Tournament.

Speech and debate activities are a gateway to success, notes Scott Wunn, Executive Director of the NSDA. “Speech and debate advances communication skills; improves reading, writing, and critical thinking skills; develops interpersonal skills; and prepares students for college, a career, and beyond.”

Van  Kuiken and Wilson are the second and third students to receive this award at City.