Former students and coaches inducted

Published 3:01 pm Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Recently 10 former students and three former debate and speech coaches were inducted into the Nancy Anderson Haga Forensics Hall of Fame (NAHFHOF). According to a press release, “In 2016 Fuqua School established the NAHFHOF to honor Dr. Nancy Anderson Haga, who established the first debate and speech team at then Prince Edward Academy in 1965. During the 25 years under her direction more than 500 students participated in debate and speech at the school. After more than 20 years of inactivity, the debate and speech program was reintroduced in 2015 by alumnus, Dr. Robert Frank ‘65.”

Maximillian Gebauer, a 2018 Fuqua School graduate and currently a freshman at Washington and Lee University, served as the Master of Ceremonies. While at Fuqua, Max served for three years as debate team captain and earned membership in the National Forensic League. Per the release, “the Nancy Anderson Haga Forensics Hall of Fame, shall honor those who, by outstanding achievement in debate and speech to Prince Edward Academy/ Fuqua School forensics, having made lasting contributions to the cause of speech and debate at the school.” To be eligible for selection, the candidate must have graduated at least five years prior to his/her induction.


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Ann Marie Pearson Wood (1966): Ann Marie Pearson Wood was an award-winning member and co-captain of the first debate team at Prince Edward Academy. In 2007 she retired from a 34-year career as an executive in the insurance industry. Ann Marie Pearson Wood and her husband Reggie reside in Roanoke.

Nancy Covington Phaup (1967): Phaup participated during the first two years of the program. During her time, she won several first-place awards in debate competitions. Following her graduation from Longwood, Phaup taught high school in Buckingham and Prince Edward counties for 31 years. She established and coached a successful debate and speech program at Prince Edward County High School and was recognized through her induction into the Virginia High School League’s Hall of Fame.

Nancye Scott “Scottie” Noel Alley (1969): Alley served as a team captain and was an award-winning debater. After earning her bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary, Alley taught English and coached debate in Hanover County. Her experience as a debater and coach eventually led her to earn a law degree from St. Louis University School of Law. Alley combines her dedication to education and law by working in the Office of Dispute Resolutions with the Virginia Department of Education.

Ann V. Gordon (1970): A three-year member of the debate team, Gordon was a highly successful competitor. After graduation in 1970, Gordon continued her debate career at the University of Richmond as well as participated in student government. She continued her education by attending the University of Virginia School of Law where she served as Senior Editor of the Virginia Journal of International Law. The majority of her career has been working as a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. Department of State.

Francis Eugene Wood, Jr. (1973): Francis Wood won numerous awards in poetry reading, speaking events and the local VFW Voice of Democracy. While in high school, Francis Wood joined the WFLO radio station. Today he is co-owner and GM of the Colonial Broadcasting Company, Inc. In addition to his announcing career on WFLO, Francis Wood has written 36 books and is a professional storyteller and speaker.

Donald Carl Blessing (1973): Blessing participated in debate throughout his high school career. His debate prowess brought numerous awards to the program. Earning his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Richmond, Blessing returned to Farmville to practice law including a stint as the Town Attorney. In 2014, Blessing was elected by the General Assembly as a circuit court judge in the 10th Judicial Circuit Court.

William Scott Johnson (1984): Johnson debated for his entire high school career and served as team captain his senior year. Johnson attended the University of Richmond where he earned an undergraduate and law degree. Today Johnson practices with Hancock and Daniel & Johnson, P. C. His emphasis is governmental relations at the General Assembly.

Paula Moore Dillingham (1984) awarded posthumously: While at the Academy, Dillingham was involved with the school newspaper, head drum majorette, the lead role in a Longwood theater production. However, her first love was forensics competitions. She was a 1988 graduate of Erskine College. Following her untimely death, the Paula Moore Dillingham Award was established as a cash award to a graduating senior “who shows promise of a faithful Christian life and servanthood and is the most qualified to exemplify Paula’s life … ”

Peyton Carter Anderson (1985): Anderson participated in numerous forensic events while in high school. He was actively involved in the YMCA sponsored activities including being elected Speaker of the House at the Model General Assembly and attended the YMCA International Peace Conference in Japan. After graduating from the University of Richmond, Anderson has been an entrepreneur and has started several companies.

Tyler Montgomery “Monty” Mason (1985): Mason was a member of the team his entire high school career. He won a state championship in Dramatic Interpretation and attended the national tournament of the National Forensic League. He was elected Lieutenant Governor of the Model General Assembly in 1985. Mason graduated from the College of William and Mary and has worked in a variety of executive positions in major companies. In 2014, he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates and in 2016 he was elected to the Virginia State Senate.


Dr. Robert Frank (1965): Graduating from Prince Edward Academy the year before the debate team debuted, Frank was introduced to debate as an undergraduate at the University of Richmond, where he majored in Speech and Theater Arts. He earned his master’s degree from Wake Forest University and his doctorate from the University of Georgia. He has coached debate and forensics at Wake Forest University, Great Bridge High School (Chesapeake), the University of Georgia, Duquesne University and Morehead State University. He was inducted into the first class of the Virginia High School League Hall of Fame, was honored as the Speech Teacher of the Year in Virginia and in Kentucky and is a key coach of the Barkley Forum for High Schools in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to teaching and coaching debate and communication, he was the chief academic officer for international education at Morehead State University and at Longwood University. After retiring from Longwood, Frank reintroduced debate and forensics at Fuqua School in 2015.

Frances Hazelwood: While teaching at Prince Edward Academy and Fuqua School, Hazelwood shared her love of English in the classroom and later her love for reading as the Library Specialist. Before her teaching career and while a student at Longwood, she enrolled in Dr. Haga’s public speaking class and a love for public speaking was born. At Prince Edward Academy, she became an invaluable part of the forensics program. Hazelwood was always willing to do whatever was needed whether it was traveling to tournaments or being a judge on short notice.

Linda Leatherwood: For 20 years, Leatherwood taught social studies at Prince Edward Academy and was an integral part of the forensics program. Her assistance was invaluable in training the individual members of the team. She willingly chaperoned students at tournaments and served as a judge. Leatherwood continued her teaching career in Appomattox until she retired in 2009. From 2002-2014, she served as a member of the Prince Edward County School Board.