Congratulations to Bethany senior Jacob Leininger (‘22) on earning the prestigious National Speech & Debate Association’s Academic All American award. This award recognizes academic rigor, competitive speech success, and personal excellence.
This accomplishment places Jacob among the top one percent of all National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA) student members across the United States. From more than the 141,000 student members of the NSDA, fewer than 1% of students earn the Academic All American award every year.
The award recognizes students who earned the degree of Superior Distinction in the NSDA Honor Society with a total of 750 or more merit points, achieved rigorous criteria for GPA, and demonstrated outstanding character and leadership.
Jacob has participated in speech at Bethany since middle school. During his senior year, he focused on original oratory and impromptu speeches, though he also competed in prose, dramatic, and humorous interpretation throughout his high school career.
Coach Michael Yeakey says, “Over the years, Jacob has matured and become more focused, as evidenced by the depth of his involvement in demanding speech events. Oratory and impromptu are two very different types of speeches. Jacob’s maturity and work have produced more success this year than previously.”
Jacob likes the contrast between oratory and impromptu speeches. With oratory, Coach Yeakey provides research and assistance, he says, “But for impromptu, you need to draw on and speak about things that you know and care about.” In a recent competition, the word ‘plethora’ needed to be used during the speech. He relied on a recent class experience when Yeakey was bemoaning the excessive use of the word ‘plethora’ in senior writing assignments.
In the fall, Jacob plans to attend Johnson University in Tennessee, where he will study ministry leadership.
Jacob knows his speech career will assist him in his future goals, saying “The reason I enjoy speech is it improves skills I know I will need all my life; for job interviews, speaking, and when I go into ministry.”