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For the third year in a row, Apple Valley and Eagan high schools were two of the top 10 Schools of Outstanding Distinction at the National Speech and Debate Association National Tournament, which was held June 18-23 in Birmingham, Ala.

The top 10 schools are determined by the number of rounds of competition their students complete in speech and debate events during the tournament. Each event started with approximately 250 competitors. Of the 12 Apple Valley students who qualified for the national tournament, two were finalists (top six) in their events, five advanced to the semifinal rounds (top 14) and one was a quarterfinalist (top 30). Of the 18 Eagan students who qualified, three advanced to the semifinal rounds and four were quarterfinalists. Two students each from Eastview and Rosemount high schools also qualified for the national tournament but did not advance to the quarterfinal rounds.

Rickey Williams of Apple Valley was national runner-up in original oratory and Jane Michaelson, also of Apple Valley, took fifth place in original oratory. Semifinalists from Apple Valley included Claire Doty and Zakkiyah Sanders, seventh place in duo interpretation; Uzoma Ngwu, seventh place in oral interpretation; Trinity Ek, seventh place in informative speaking, and Sarah Grambo, eighth place in informative speaking. Arianna Rotty of Apple Valley was a quarterfinalist in dramatic interpretation.

Semifinalists from Eagan included Rachel Standal, 10th place in informative speaking; Paul Filonowich, 11th place in oral interpretation, and Subha Ravichandran in congressional debate. Quarterfinalists from Eagan were Elise Goren in informative speaking, Emily Albert Stauning in oral interpretation, and Jason Scheller and Ben Pankow in U.S. extemporaneous speaking. Pankow also received an individual award for being a four-time qualifier for the national tournament.

Eagan High Principal Polly Reikowski was inducted into the National Speech and Debate Association’s Hall of Fame during this year’s tournament. Reikowski has been involved with speech and debate in District 196 schools as a coach or administrator since she first started working in the district in 1973, at Rosemount High School. The Hall of Fame was established in 1978 to honor the nation’s best speech and debate educators. Eagan’s Head Speech Coach Joni Anker was inducted in 2011 and former Apple Valley Head Speech Coach Pam Wycoff was inducted in 2007.

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