NEOSHO, Mo. — Good news out of Neosho. How about national recognition for the high school speech and debate team?.

It ranked 40th out of more than three-thousand schools that participate in competitions nationwide. The accolades come from the “NFL” — which in this case, stands for “The National Forensic League.”

In addition to classic debate styles like public forum and Lincoln Douglas, students can also compete in events like public speaking and competitive acting. This year, close to 80 students are involved in the program — and take part in about 10 competitions every semester.

“I’m really proud of the kids. It’s a team effort. I know everyone talks about oh it’s just one or two people — no, every kid contributes to that that’s in the program. It’s not just one or two stars that do that. It’s based on every kid that’s in the program,” said David Watkins, Neosho High School Speech & Debate Coach.

Watkins has coached speech and debate for 35 years — he plans to retire at the end of the year.