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Glacier speech and debate student named Student of the Year

Daily Inter Lake | March 8, 2023 12:00 AM

Glacier High School senior Mac Adkins received top accolades from the National Speech and Debate Association.

Adkins was named the 2023 Student of the Year for the Montana West District. He is the first Glacier student to receive the award.

To be considered for the award, coaches in each district of the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) are invited to nominate a graduating senior, “Who best represents the tenets of the association’s Code of Honor: humility, equity, integrity, respect, leadership, and service,” according to the association. A committee of coaches selects the winner.

Flathead High School head coach Shannon O'Donnell nominated Adkins, describing him as a “beacon of leadership.” She noted that while it isn’t every day a coach nominates a competitor from a rival team, Adkins exemplifies the award criteria. O’Donnell said she has watched Adkins progress into a “formidable competitor,” who remained respectful and kind throughout his time competing.

While he primarily competed in Original Oratory and Duo Interpretation during his high school career, he also won tournaments and was a finalist in Public Forum Debate, Memorized Public Address, Program Oral Interpretation, and Extemporaneous Speaking. At the national tournament, Adkins also competed in World Schools Debate, Extemporaneous Debate, Expository, Prose, and Poetry.

Adkins, a four-year varsity letter winner at Glacier, became the first student in the high school’s history to earn All-State honors four years in a row, according to a press release. Additionally, he is the second Glacier student to qualify for the NSDA National Tournament for four consecutive years. Last summer, he achieved Premier Distinction, the highest degree a student may obtain in the NSDA, and is a two-time All-American award winner, which recognizes top student point earners.

“While Mac's competitive accolades speak for themselves, and they alone make him a worthy recipient for this award, it is his quality of character that I have always found most impressive,” O’Donnell wrote in her nomination letter. “Too often, we see continued success evolve from an ‘exciting blessing’ to an ‘expectation’ for some of our top kids. As coaches, we work to help them with humility and empathy, and good sportsmanship when it doesn't go the way they wanted it to. Not with Mac. I have been amazed, time and time again, by Mac's unchanging attitude,” O’Donnell said, noting how he’s made a point to help struggling competitors with advice at tournaments and congratulate teammates.”

O’Donnell highlighted his dedication to the activity although it’s not easy growing up as a “legacy kid.” Adkins is the son of Glacier Head Coach Greg Adkins.

“Mac Adkins has been a speech kid and a theater kid since he was old enough to walk and talk and follow his dad around summer camps at Glacier High School. It is not easy to grow up as a legacy kid — his father and his godmother are in the hall of fame. His brother was beloved by the team and is a former state champion — in Mac's main event. It's a lot to live up to, and I watched my own sons deal with that same pressure, so I know how difficult it can be. Let me say … Mac Adkins, you did good!” O’Donnell said.

Mac Adkins will be considered for the national Student of the Year award in June.

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or