The Neosho High School Speech and Debate program has again received national recognition, and the R-5 School District board of education lauded the squad Monday evening for its continued success.

NHS principal Darren Cook announced that he had received a letter from the National Speech and Debate Association that congratulated the Neosho chapter for achieving more than 400 degrees last year and ranking among the top 0.5 percent of schools nationwide. Cook said that earned the Neosho Speech and Debate chapter membership in the association’s prestigious “Societe’ de 400.”   

“This milestone is remarkable because it demonstrates outstanding commitment to teaching students essential life skills including communication, research, listening, writing, and organization,” Cook said.

He said this is just another honor from the national level for the work done by participants in the program. Cook praised the students for the time and effort they give to excel.

“They give a lot of time away from their family,” he said. “They spend a lot of time on the road with kids, and we never have complaints, we never have issues; they go and excel – this last weekend was another example – they took first out of 34 schools at Kickapoo and Glendale.”

After the board and members of the audience provided the team a standing ovation, member Steven Douglas presented an award in recognition of their achievement on behalf of the board to NHS Speech and Debate coaches Alisha Morris and David Watkins.

Douglas noted that he and fellow board member Jonathan Russell are graduates of the program.

“And hopefully good testaments to what you can be as a good leader in the community and what the program does to instill good values and public speaking skills,” Douglas said.

Douglas pointed out that the success of the program goes way beyond last year.

“It’s something that Neosho’s been great at for 60 years,” he said. “We’ve got people here that have been national champions in the debate program since the 1950s. It’s quite an achievement.

“You’ll see things in the media about all the sports programs around here, but the debate and speech programs give wide skills to hundreds of students, and we’ve produced some of the best in the country.”

Several others were honored by the school board. Alex Malcom, fourth grade, Central, and Brayden Henson, third grade, NCIS (Neosho Center for Intervention and Support), were named co-Students of the Month for October 2014. Cathy Myers, E-Tech trainer at Carver, is the Certified Employee of the Month; and Randall Griffin, IT technician, is the Classified Employee of the Month. Aaron’s was recognized as Patron of the Month for the company’s contributions to Neosho Middle School.

Tim Crawley, assistant superintendent for business and finance, provided an update on the new substitute teacher process under temporary hiring firm Penmac. Crawley announced he is working with the firm to patch holes that have developed in getting out the message of openings, explaining there have been some days when not all needed substitute positions were filled.

“Overall we’ve had a 98.2 percent fill ratio, which is good,” he said. “If you’d have looked at the last week, it wasn’t that good.”

Crawley said the district’s substitutes are invited to attend a two-hour training session this Friday.

Brett Day, school board president, maintained that the board needs to communicate with building principals to receive honest feedback about the new system.

“There’s an accountability piece to everything we do, and at some point we need to decide whether or not to continue it,” Day explained.

The Neosho High School Choral Booster Club will host the annual Chili Supper and Fall Concert this Thursday evening, Oct. 23, beginning at 5:30 in the NHS Atrium. The cost is $5 for adults, $3 for children age 12 and younger.