Nick Selby and Sam Abney

Nick Selby and Sam Abney practice their duo presentation Wednesday at Desert Vista. The two seniors were recently awarded the Premier Distinction by the National Forensics League for their speech and debate careers.

Travis Roemhild/AFN

Desert Vista High School qualified 12 students for the 2012 NFL (National Forensics League) National Tournament and the team will travel to Indianapolis on Sunday, June 10, to compete against the nation’s best.

At a qualifying tournament at Phoenix Country Day School March 29-31, more than 45 members of the Thunder Speech Theater and Debate Company competed for a chance to perform at nationals. In addition to qualifying 12 students, DV was also runner-up in overall sweepstakes, first place in Speech Sweepstakes, and first place in Congress Sweepstakes. They were also awarded the Arizona Leading Chapter Award for 2006-2011.

“We work hard,” assistant coach Victor Silva said. “No one is going to work harder than us.”

Katie Giel and Alison Brown qualified for the Congressional Debate category, Carissa Guell for Humorous Interpretation, Isabela Schwartz and Rachel Chada for Dramatic Interpretation, Austin Kennedy for Original Oratory, Samuel Abney (who was also named champion of Humorous Interpretation) and Nicholas Selby for Duo Interpretation, Kohi Gill for International Extemporaneous Speaking, and Corrine Carlton and Priyanka Mohanty for Public Forum Debate. Caitlin Feldewerth qualifed but has dropped out of the competition.

“You have to develop a character and get everything across in 10 minutes,” Selby said. “It’s about inspiring the most amount of people you can.”

“I know more about politics and international politics than I ever thought I would,” said Feldewerth, who does the extemporaneous speaking category. “I learned self-confidence and I learned more about pretty much everything while being in the club.”

Before they head off to Indianapolis, the team got together to perform what they call Round 13. On Wednesday, June 6, the Thunder Speech Theater and Debate Company members jumped up on stage in the DV auditorium and performed for the community.

The national event is June 10-15. To learn more about the Thunder Speech Theater and Debate Company, visit

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