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Debate student named All-American

Christopher Malhas earns All-American designation. The National Speech and Debate Association announced recently that Christopher Malhas from Princeton High School has been named an Academic All-American, which recognizes academic rigor, competitive speech and debate success and personal excellence.

This accomplishment is no easy task.

“From more than 141,000 student members of the National Speech and Debate Association, fewer than 1,000 students earn the Academic All-American award every year,” said J. Scott Wunn, executive director of NSDA. “This tremendous accomplishment places Christopher among the top one percent of all student members across the country.”

To become an All-American, students must complete at least five semesters of high school, earn more than 750 merit points through competitive speech and debate, meet GPA and test score requirements and demonstrate outstanding character and leadership.

“I’ve given up most of my Saturdays during high school to get to compete,” Christopher said. “But I love to compete at tournaments so that was my primary motivation. Finding out I qualified for Academic All-American was just an added bonus.”

Christopher, who serves as the president of the PHS chapter of National Honor Society, has been a part of the speech and debate program at PHS since he was “discovered” his 9th-grade year while competing in UIL academic events.

“At first I didn’t really know what debate was,” he said. “It just looked weird because all I had ever noticed were kids who looked like they were talking to walls. But they saw potential in me, and I’m glad they did.”

During his time as a debater, Christopher has amassed a slew of awards, including 5th-place at state in Lincoln Douglas debate, which is his primary event. He’s also qualified for Nationals the past two years, and according to his teacher at PHS, Heather Stringer, he’s on pace to qualify for a third time.

“In LD, you are given a philosophical question or issue in society, and you have to answer it with reasoning and debate both sides of the topic,” he said. “This requires you to learn about something from different points of view.”

He’s also been a part of Student Congress, which has students emulate members of the U.S. Congress by debating bills and resolutions.

“We basically run a session like Congress,” Christopher said. “We give speeches over student-written legislation that focuses on current issues.”

Christopher plans to continue his education at the University of Texas-Austin after graduation to focus on astronomy and physics. When he graduates from PHS in May, he will already have his associate’s degree.

“I’m glad I did all this because it built my ability to speak publicly,” he said. “And it has helped me to use reasoning as part of my daily life.”