AVHS senior named national speech champion – twice

Nader Helmy took home first place at National Speech Tournament

Nader Helmy

Each year, hundreds of high school students compete in the National Forensic League National Speech Tournament, but only a handful leave as champions.

Apple Valley High School senior Nader Helmy not only left the Indianapolis tournament a champion in June, but did so for the second consecutive year.

Helmy, 17, took first place in original oratory with his speech “Surfing USA,” which drew attention to American’s tendency to skim the surface of a number of issues, hobbies and activities rather than delve deep into a few things.

“It was really exciting to win again,” the Lakeville resident said. “I always strive to be my best and pour a lot of myself into the things I do.”

Helmy conquered the same category last year at the national competition in Dallas with his speech “Tailor Made for the Ages,” which focused on the importance of valuing the old — especially traditions, possessions and friendships.

That speech was inspired by his father, an immigrant from Egypt, who taught Helmy to value old items.

Apple Valley High School is home to a number of national speech champions, but few have earned the title twice, said Pam Wycoff, director of speech and debate at AVHS.

Helmy said he was surprised to take first place again in the national competition since he had struggled at previous tournaments.

During his freshman year at AVHS, Helmy tried his hand at a number of co-curricular activities but became hooked on speech.

Over the years Helmy dabbled in several categories but always found himself coming back to original oratory.

“It gives me a platform to say a lot of things that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to say,” he said.

Though he has twice earned first place at the national tournament, Helmy has not yet taken first at the state level. He took second his sophomore year and said he hopes to achieve first this year.

The national and state competitions are unrelated to one another. Students qualify for the national competition by placing first, second or third in their category in the national qualifier tournament.

Helmy is a member of the AVHS National Honor Society and the school choir, and has previous participated in theater, debate and various sports.

As he begins his final year at AVHS, Helmy is considering several colleges, though he hasn’t decided on a major to pursue. Stanford and Yale are at the top of his list, but he also plans to apply to the University of Minnesota and other public schools.