CYPRESS TEXAS — Cypress Woods High School junior Angela Zhong recently earned two national honors, as she was named among six finalists for the National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA) Exemplary Student Service Award and was selected to the 12-member USA Debate Development Team.

Nominated by Cypress Woods Debate and World Geography Teacher Jacob Koshak, Zhong was selected as a finalist from more than 120,000 student members in NSDA, the national honor society for speech and debate participation. The award was introduced in 2017 and given to a student who serves his or her school, community, city, region or state using skills honed through speech and debate.

Fifty nominees are selected and then pared down to the six finalists. The winner (Madeline Gochee of Oregon) was announced March 1 in conjunction with National Speech and Debate Education Day.

“A lot of our awards celebrate competitive and academic success, but this is about recognizing students for using the skills they are learning in speech and debate to improve their communities,” NSDA Operations Specialist Annie Reisener said. “We wanted to celebrate them.”

Zhong served as a student representative in the human trafficking branch to the NewGen Peacebuilders for the International Rotary District 5890 Conference for Peace and Conflict Resolution. She also helped organize drives for school supplies after Hurricane Harvey.

“Although she has gone through tremendous difficulty, she consistently bounces back, allowing the experience to sharpen her skills rather than hold her back from what she knows she can do,” Koshak wrote about Zhong in his nomination letter.

Zhong is also part of the 2018-2019 USA Debate Development Team. The group of students will train and practice with USA Debate coaches, alumni and the 2018-2019 USA Debate Team, a 12-member team of NSDA’s best student debaters chosen to represent the United States in international competition. Six Texans were named to the two debate teams, with Zhong being CFISD’s lone representative selected.

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