Sacred Heart Student Earns National Recognition


Madison Alliston, a senior at Sacred Heart Catholic School, has been named one of the nation’s six finalists for the 2018 Exemplary Student Service Award. These six individuals were selected for utilizing the skills they learned through speech and debate to go above and beyond in their service to their school, community, region or state.

 In addition to Alliston, other winners are Jamie Bikales (Lincoln High School, Oregon), Patrick Childress (Valdosta High School, Georgia), Chloe Higgins (Nebraska City High School, Nebraska), Brandon Schloss (Wellington High School, Florida) and Suan Sonna (Sumner Academy, Kansas).

Alliston was nominated by her coach, Monica Salda, for her experience as a TRIAD Service AmeriCorps member. The senior was asked by the group to organize and lead a workshop for individuals with disabilities called SPEAK UP SPEAK OUT.  This self-advocacy workshop focused on helping young adults, especially those with disabilities, find their voice.

“When Madison received the opportunity to coordinate this workshop she was ecstatic,” said Salda. “Disability has been a theme for several of her NSDA speech events throughout her high school career.”

In the summer of 2017, young adults with and without disabilities learned how to tell their stories and how to advocate for themselves.

“Being a part of speech and debate has not only shown me the power of words, but has given me the confidence to find my voice and the determination to help others find theirs as well,” Alliston said.

The Exemplary Student Service Award is given annually to a student who serves their school, community, city, region, or state using skills they honed through speech and debate. Coaches or administrators nominate students who uphold the highest standard of service, one of the core tenets of the NSDA Code of Honor, for recognition. The Code states that “A member exercises their talents to provide service to peers, community, and the activity. At all times, a member is prepared to work constructively to improve the lives of others.”

 The award winners will be recognized and celebrated as part of National Speech and Debate Education Day March 2. Alliston and other Sacred Heart Speech and Debate Team members have qualified for the 2018 National Catholic Forensics League Tournament to be held in Washington, D.C., in May. She will compete in oral interpretation. Upon graduation, Alliston plans on attending the University of Mississippi.