National Forensic League Announces National Coach of the Year
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
RIPON, Wis. (May 7, 2013) – The National Forensic League, the honor society for middle and high school speech and debate, has named Jon Cruz as the 2013 James Madison Copeland Coach of the Year.
The endowed award is presented annually in honor of James M. Copeland, director emeritus for the National Forensic League. “The award reflects outstanding leadership and commitment to speech and debate activities,” stated Executive Director J. Scott Wunn. “It is one of the most prestigious honors a coach can receive.”
This school year marks Cruz's eighth season as the director of the Bronx Science Speech and Debate Team. Cruz also teaches AP U.S. Government & Politics at the Bronx High School of Science in New York City.
The namesake for the coveted award is thrilled to honor Cruz with this distinction. “Jon deserves to be Coach of the Year,” Copeland said. “His Bronx Science team teaches a large number of students and achieves competitive success at top level national tournaments."
The Bronx Science team consistently ranks among the top in the nation by the National Forensic League. More than 300 high school students participate in the Bronx Science program—one of the largest in the country. Cruz's students compete successfully on the local, regional and national level. His students compete in every National Forensic League event, and he has coached multiple state champions across events. In 2009, Bronx Science became the first and only school to win the Harvard University National Invitational in both Lincoln-Douglas Debate and Policy Debate in the same year. This April, Bronx Science won the William Woods Tate, Jr., Team Excellence Award for the top performance by a school at the National High School Tournament of Champions (TOC). The award is sponsored by the National Forensic League.
As members of the League, Bronx Science students adhere to the core tenets of the honor society—integrity, humility, leadership, respect and service. Under the direction of Cruz, his students have earned a combined total of 22 National Forensic League Student Service Citations in 2012-13 alone. Students receive a citation for every 100 service points earned through activities such as community speaking or outreach. A single act of service usually garners between two and five service points.
Cruz, like many coaches across the United States, earns points through the League’s honor society, equivalent to one-tenth of those earned by his students. With a total of 13,816 coaching points on record since 2005, Cruz has quickly established excellence and leadership in the activity, earning his first diamond award from the League in 2010.
During his tenure at Bronx Science, Cruz has revived the New York City Invitational into one of the largest high school forensic tournaments in the country. In 2009, Cruz became the youngest coach inducted into the Gold Key Society of the Barkley Forum at Emory University. In 2010, he was awarded the highest honor of the National Debate Coaches Association: the NDCA Educator of Year Award. He is currently serving his second consecutive term as president of the New York State Debate Coaches Association.
The official Coach of the Year announcement comes at the height of Teacher Appreciation Week, May 6-10. Cruz will accept his award in person on Thursday, June 20, when he travels with his speech and debate team to Birmingham, Ala. to compete at the annual National Forensic League National Tournament.
“I am extremely humbled to accept the James Madison Copeland Coach of the Year Award,” Cruz said. “I work with public school students who have long commutes across a big city. Our program is extracurricular. The success I have had in coaching a team of honorable, successful students is a result of the hard work of my many speakers and debaters, the incredible dedication of my assistants and my predecessors, and the awe-inspiring support of my administration and our alumni.”
Cruz credits his passion for history, government and politics in his success as a speech and debate coach, and vice versa. “I’m excited to share my enthusiasm with my students,” he concluded.
About the National Forensic League
The National Forensic League is the honor society for middle and high school speech and debate. The nonprofit organization recognizes participation and progress in public speaking and debating activities as a means to meet the Common Core State Standards in listening, speaking, reading and writing. The League empowers students to become effective communicators, ethical individuals, critical thinkers, and leaders in our democratic society. Since 1925, more than 1.4 million students have participated in the League, with 120,000 active members representing more than 3,000 schools. The League awards more than $200,000 in college scholarships at its annual National Tournament, the largest academic competition in the world. For more information, visit www.nationalforensicleague.org.
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--Vicki Pape, National Forensic League, email@example.com, 920-748-6206
--Emily Embury, C. Blohm & Associates, firstname.lastname@example.org, 608-216-7300