The accolades continue to roll in for the Desert Vista Thunder Theatre Speech and Debate Company.

Last month, the National Forensic League ranked the program at DV 18th in the country, out of more than 3,000 schools nationwide. DV also received the 2010-11 Leading Chapter Award in the Arizona district and were welcomed into the Pentagon Society of the National Forensics League.

"It is a pretty big deal, and we are proud of our accomplishments," coach Erik Dominguez said. "It communicates that our team is big in number and has a lot of quality."

Admittance into the Pentagon Society is based on a club having 500 degrees or more, with students earning degrees, such as in Degree of Merit, Degree of Honor or Degree of Excellence. Students earn points based on participation and receive more points depending on what rank they finish in competitive events. For example, a student may earn five points in a single competition and will need more than 25 to earn a single degree. This was the first time the DV team has achieved 500 degrees, which is the cumulative total.

DV has won the chapter award in the past, but programs can only receive the distinction once every five years. This year, DV was one of only 108 schools in the nation to be honored with it.

"What it symbolizes, at least to me, is that we are providing an environment where the kids are excited to be here and they are learning to be successful," Dominguez said.

The team, which Dominguez took over from the original coach, nearly 10 years ago, has about 130 active members. While they continue to set the bar for success, their coach knows there is still room for improvement.

"We are always learning and, despite our success, one of our rules is that we will never get complacent," he said. "But, we definitely celebrate this. It gives us encouragement that we are on the right track and for the newer members, they have the responsibility to continue."

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