Desert Vista students earn national distinction - Ahwatukee Foothills News: News

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Desert Vista students earn national distinction

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Posted: Saturday, February 4, 2012 7:00 am

Sam Abney and Nick Selby may have different futures ahead of them, but they will finish off their final year at Desert Vista on top of the high school speech and debate world.

After a nearly four-year-long career with the DV Speech and Debate Team, Abney and Selby accumulated a career point total that placed them in the top half of 1 percent of high school students around the country. They both earned over 1,500 points, gained in competition, throughout their speech and debate careers to earn the Premier Distinction, the National Forensic League's highest degree of student membership.

"There were a couple of kids last year that got (the Premier Distinction) and we both knew we were really close when this year started," Abney said. "So it was definitely something I was looking forward to just because not a lot of people get it."

Abney is considering his options for next fall, one of which includes continuing speech and debate at George Mason University in Virginia.

Selby will most likely be taking a completely opposite route and enter the field of engineering, but his experiences on the speech and debate team have prepared him for what comes next, he said.

"I feel the skills I have learned on this team will help me in whatever I decide to do," he said.

Earning the top award leaves little left to accomplish for their high school speech and debate careers. Last season they made it to the National Forensics League National Speech and Debate Tournament, and both placed in the top 60 in their respected categories.

"The goal is to get on the national stage and try to get your message across to the most amount of people," Abney said.

For the national tournament last year, both competed in the humorous interpretation event, with Abney placing in the top 30 and Selby in the top 60. The event involves a 10-minute monologue that is judged based on how sympathetic the character is and how the crowd responds. They can choose any character from literature, plays or movies.

"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."

Points are accumulated based on performance and placement in individual and duo competitions. The most amount of points one can score in a single performance is six.

The nationals will take place in June in Indianapolis.

Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or

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