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The National Speech & Debate Association highlights the academic value of speech and debate activities within school systems. Every year, schools from across the country are awarded for their commitment to speech and debate activities and the learning opportunities they provide to their students.

Charter Status

Becoming a charter chapter is the highest honor for high schools in the NSDA. A chapter is chartered after enrolling at least 50 degrees within a three-year period of membership. Small schools with 9th-12th grade enrollment of fewer than 500 students must enroll at least 25 degrees within a three-year period. If a charter chapter does not meet the minimum three-year strength requirements, it can apply for a one-year extension, or it reverts to member chapter status.

New high schools earning charter status will receive this plaque automatically. High schools that previously earned a paper charter have the option to purchase a plaque as well.

Leading Chapter Awards

Each year the top chapter in accumulated members and degrees, not more than one per district, receives the Leading Chapter Award. Leading Chapter schools are recognized based on student participation throughout the school year. Schools earning the Leading Chapter Award must have previously achieved Charter School Status in the National Speech & Debate Association. The award is presented at the district tournament. These speech and debate programs serve as an inspiration for new teams around the United States.

Top 100 Schools

Each year, the 100 chapters with the largest number of new degrees receive the Top 100 Schools designation

Bruno E. Jacob Trophy

The Bruno E. Jacob/Pi Kappa Delta Trophy is given to the school with the largest number of cumulative rounds at the National Speech & Debate Tournament. Each student in each round of a main event at Nationals counts as one point, and a school’s total is only reset when they win the trophy.

Club Awards

Club awards demonstrate outstanding commitment to teaching students essential life skills—including communication, research, listening, writing, and organization. Every year, schools can earn club awards for achieving degrees in the Honor Society. For example, The 100 Club recognizes a school that had a strength of over 100 points. The 200 Club honors a school that earned 200 strength points; and so on. Club Award schools may purchase the Club Award Plaque or Desk Award to recognize their achievement.

High School Administrator of the Year Award

The National Speech & Debate Association’s High School Administrator of the Year program began in 2011 as a means to recognize outstanding high school principals and administrators. The program annually honors administrators who have succeeded in providing high-quality opportunities for students in speech and debate programming as well as demonstrating exemplary contributions to the profession.

Middle School Administrator of the Year Award

The National Speech & Debate Association’s Middle School Administrator of the Year program began in 2016 as a means to recognize outstanding middle school principals and administrators. The program annually honors administrators who have succeeded in providing high-quality opportunities for students in speech and debate programming as well as demonstrating exemplary contributions to the profession.

School Awards

A variety of school awards are awarded annually to the top schools at the National Tournament:

Schools of Outstanding Distinction – recognizes the top 10 schools after combining both speech and debate points (must score points in both divisions).

Speech Schools of Excellence – recognizes the top 20 schools in total speech points that did not win a School of Outstanding Distinction Award.

Debate Schools of Excellence – recognizes the top 20 schools in total debate points that did not win a School of Outstanding Distinction Award.

Speech Schools of Honor – recognizes the top 21-40 schools in total speech points that did not win a School of Outstanding Distinction Award.

Debate Schools of Honor – recognizes the top 21-40 schools in total debate points that did not win a School of Outstanding Distinction Award.

Outstanding School Achievement – school administrators of the top six individuals or teams in each main event are sent an Outstanding School Achievement plaque, personalized with students’ names, school, event, place, and year.

Senator Karl E. Mundt Sweepstakes Trophy

The Karl Mundt Trophy, awarded since the first National Student Congress in 1938, is presented to the school with the largest number of cumulative participation points in Congressional Debate at the National Tournament.

The Unger Cup

This annual award, named in honor of one of America’s finest debaters and coaches, James Unger, is awarded to the school whose Policy Debate team places highest in six national tournaments: the National Speech & Debate Tournament; the National Catholic Forensic League; the NAUDL Chase Urban Debate National Championship; the University of Kentucky Tournament of Champions (TOC); the New York University International Public Policy Forum tournament (IPPF); and the National Debate Coaches Association (NDCA).