The Cherry Creek High School Speech and Debate program continues to be an honored member of the National Forensic League’s prestigious Pentagon Society, which recognizes the top 0.1% of NFL chapters nationwide. It is currently the 14th largest program in the country.
In addition, CCHS English teacher Martha Benham has coached the school’s speech and debate team for the last 10 years of her 24 year coaching career that began at Columbine High School. She has earned the NFL Distinguished Service Plaque – Second Honors. Since the league was founded in 1925, only 42 out of tens of thousands of coaches have earned this remarkable honor.
“The Distinguished Service Award was initiated by Bruno E. Jacob, NFL founder, to reward those select coaches who unselfishly serve by sponsoring new chapters, serving as a district or national officer, writing for Rostrum, hosting or managing tournaments, and speaking or writing about speech education,” said J.Scott Wunn, NFL Executive Director. “By choosing to devote herself to others, Marti Benham demonstrates the spirit of the league at its finest. We thank her for all she does to give youth a voice.”
Benham has also earned her Fourth Diamond Award, which recognizes coaches for excellence and longevity. Only 138 coaches have earned that award in the past 88 years. The NFL provides Diamond Awards based on coach points received. Coaches receive one-tenth the points earned by their students. After five years as an NFL member, a coach who attains 1,500 points is awarded a First Diamond. A Second Diamond is awarded for 3,000 points, a third for 6,000 points and so on. Five years must pass between each diamond award.
Benham will be honored at the National Forensic League National Speech and Debate Tournament in June in Birmingham, Alabama. Each year, the tournament draws more than 5,000 students, coaches and parents from across the nation.
During the past 10 years, the CCHS Speech and Debate team has qualified 98 students to the national tournament and 5 of those students have placed in the top 10 nationally. Additionally, the team has earned the prestigious NFL Debate Schools of Excellence Award for the past three years. Over the same period, Cherry Creek has qualified more than 300 students to the Colorado State Tournament and earned 16 state championships.