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Since 1948, the year Dr. Gifford Blyton was employed to start an intercollegiate debating team at the University of Kentucky, his name has become synonymous with forensics in Kentucky. Hired to bring top scholars to U.K., Dr. Blyton did just that.


In the twenty years that he coached the debating team, his students won over 700 championship trophies, including several national championships. Dr. Blyton taught and coached some of the most outstanding legal scholars in our nation, including former Washington D.C. Bar Association president George Shadoan and former Clemson University president Dr. C.W. “Deno” Curris. One of his former students, Rodney Page, still holds the record for the highest score ever earned on the LSAT (Law School Admission Test).

Some of Dr. Blyton’s proudest accomplishments include co-authoring the 1954 Tau Kappa Alpha best- selling debate text Principles of Argumentation and Debate, being named president of the American Forensic Association, and organizing the first integrated debate in the nation between the University of Kentucky and Kentucky State University. This historic debate made headlines nationwide and came two years before the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown vs. Board of Education.

Well known for his ability to generate support and enthusiasm for forensics, Dr. Blyton retired from U.K.  to become the director of the Kentucky High School Speech League, Inc. As director, he was instrumental in rebuilding high school debate. Under his leadership, the League flourished. Dr. Blyton’s integrity, love for forensics, and keen business sense helped to make KHSSL one of the strongest forensics organizations in the United States.







  • The Blyton Book Awards honor the memory and legacy of Dr. Blyton.   They are presented annually to an outstanding Junior and Senior Division student. Dr. Blyton’s many years of service to forensics in Kentucky, as well as the nation, are immeasurable. For over five decades, Dr. Gifford Blyton was a beacon of leadership for thousands of forensic students and teachers.

  • Blyton Book Awards are presented annually to two outstanding KHSSL students — one from the Junior Division (current 8th grader) and one from the Senior Division (current 12th grader). The awards are named for Dr. Gifford Blyton, former Executive Director of KHSSL.

  • For a student to be eligible for this award, he/she must have (1) competed in KHSSL for at least two years, (2) proved to be superior in more than one KHSSL event, and (3) promoted speech and/or debate activities within his/her school, community, and state.

  • To be considered for the award, a student must be nominated by his/her coach. The coach must complete this nomination form and turn in the printed copy, along with a printed personal letter of reference, no later than the start of first round of the appropriate State Speech tournament (Junior for 8th graders; Senior for 12th graders; Debate-only students are also eligible for the Blyton Book Award, but the appropriate deadlines apply for 8th or 12th grades).If necessary, additional pages may be used to detail only those activities mentioned on the nomination form. No pictures, transcripts, or grades may be included, nor should they be made reference to. Late applicants will not be considered.

  • The recipient of this award in each grade will be chosen by an impartial panel selected by the Director with the award presented at the State Championship Speech Tournament for that grade. The coaches of the winners will be notified prior to the awards ceremonies.


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