The Mike Winther Award

In November 2021, Mike Winther, one of the great leaders of the Stoa community, was transferred from the Church Militant to the Church Triumphant. A man of unwavering faith, Mike served the Stoa community from its inception. In addition to serving the Debate Committee for many years, he served on the Stoa Board of Directors from 2017 to 2021 and coached the Modesto Debate club with his wife Mary for nearly 25 years. We will always remember Mike as a man of God’s Word, a man of integrity, a man of wisdom, a man of kindness, and a man of prayer.

To honor Mike’s memory, the Stoa Board of Directors, in 2022, established the Mike Winther Award. The award recognizes excellence in character as demonstrated in Student Leadership, Civic involvement, and the understanding of the Biblical role of government.

Application Process

1. Nomination: The student must be nominated by an adult (student’s parent or another parent/coach in the league) within Stoa no later than April 3, 2024. Nomination deadline extended to April 12, 2024.

Email your candidate nomination to: with the following information:

    • Graduating senior name, phone number, email address
    • Parent of senior’s name, phone number, email address
    • Nominating adult’s name, title, phone number, email address
    • Paragraph on why the student should be considered

Important: It is the nominating adult’s responsibility to inform the student of the nomination and advise him/her of the student requirements and deadlines.

2. Eligibility: 

  • Must be a graduating senior in Stoa
  • Must demonstrate Student Leadership in mentoring or training in forensics within their club or community

3. Student Requirements:

1. A formal email from the Student to the Mike Winther Award Selection Committee,, which must include:

    • A brief paragraph detailing the student’s forensics involvement and stating why he or she is a qualified candidate
      for this award.
    • A 5-minute video speech on the 2024 topic:

“What is the Biblical role of the government in national defense?”

Memorization is highly encouraged, but notes may be used.

2. Two Letters of Recommendation. Recommenders should email their letters directly to:

    • One letter should be on the student’s character. This must be from a pastoral reference and should include his/her title.
    • One letter must explain student leadership regarding mentoring or training in forensics within their club or community. This can be from a club parent or community member and should include his/her title.

3. Deadline for Email submission: May 1, 2024 to:


The Mike Winther Award Trophy and $1,000 prize money will be awarded at the NITOC Awards Ceremony. Along with the Stoa award, The Institute for Principle Studies (IPS) would like to offer the following to the winner of the Mike Winther Award:

  • A 4-to-6-week internship at the IPS headquarters in Modesto, CA. This could either be used in the calendar year in which the student wins the award or during the following calendar year and mutually agreed upon by IPS and the winning student.
  • Internship responsibilities may include but not limited to research, writing, reading, office help, conference and event help, project development, including helping with the Logos Forensics association and other entities. The intern would also receive training and instruction on the Biblical view of government and economics from the IPS staff.
  • The winning student will receive compensation for travel to and from Modesto. Housing will be supplied by IPS staff members or local IPS donors. Housing arrangements will be agreed upon by IPS and the student and his or her parents.

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