180 Days - OHS Senior Earns National Award

180 Days - OHS Senior Earns National Award

Riley Albertson

Ottumwa High School senior, Riley Albertson, has earned the National Speech & Debate Association’s Academic All American award. This coveted award recognizes academic rigor, competitive speech and debate success, and personal excellence.

The senior has been in speech and debate the majority of her years at OHS. She also attended debate camp as a sophomore. That experience helped her become more competitive. “I realized it was feasible to earn this award after my junior year,” she said. “I did more things to earn points.”

Points are earned through speech, debate, and theater participation. She has done both on- and off-stage work in theater and twice was nominated by her peers for “Best Crew Head.” She also earned points for service (this included speaking in front of at least 25 adults for a minimum of five minutes). 

While the award is not monetary, it will help her with both college and scholarship applications. She plans to major in business and has made several college visits as she narrows her choice. 

Speech and debate provide life skills vital to success. These experiences in public speaking have helped Albertson grow as a person. “I’m more personable and enjoy talking to people,” she said, noting she was quiet as a freshman. She said the experiences have helped her to more easily establish a connection with someone. “Speech has helped me become a critical-thinker and to think outside the box,” she said. “Through these experiences, I discovered what I want to be.”

Her list of activities goes beyond speaking. Other extra-curricular activities include band, choir, show choir, and church. She is also working towards her Silver Cord. 

Less than 500 students earn this award each year. This accomplishment places Riley in the top half of one-percent of all students across the country.  The award recognizes students who have completed at least five semesters of high school, earned a degree of Superior Distinction in our Honor Society, achieved rigorous criteria for GPA and/or test score requirements, and demonstrate outstanding character and leadership.