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Mount Mercy's Catherine Luhr Receives a National Award

Tue, Jun 5th 2018 09:00 am

                 At the 2018 National Catholic Forensic League's (NCFL) Grand National High School, Mount Mercy's Catherine Luhr received the Richard Gaudette Award.  This award was established in 2008 in honor of the NCFL's Executive Secretary and Treasurer of more than 25 years. The principle which guides this award is service. The individual/group nominated must be or have been a member of the NCFL who promoted service as well as "leadership through speech" at either a local, state or national level.

                The nominating speech describes Luhr and her qualities perfectly.  Her colleague Roland Burdett, III said: "This year's recipient embodies the word 'service' in every one of her words and actions in many of the same ways as Mr. Gaudette and the previous honorees have. Some of the attributes of this recipient that we want to specifically draw attention to are a ready smile, caring, a comforting word, humor... never ending humor... loyalty, friendship, openness, and the willingness to always ask, "How can I help? Catherine Luhr's own words describe why she is so dedicated to the activity, "I love the opportunity to work with the students. It is especially rewarding when students who never thought that they could stand up and speak in public are successful in oratory and debate. It is amazing how so many students from so many different careers tell me how much oratory and debate has helped them in their lives and careers. I made friends when I first joined debate in high school and college that are still my friends today."

                Luhr was instrumental in the creation of the Past President's group that looks for ways to help our member schools when they are devastated by disasters such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the floods of this past fall. She worked with the Louisville Diocese on the creation of the Service Project effort for each city that hosts the Nationals.  This project was developed out of Luhr's ongoing efforts to help the homeless by distributing excess food from each tournament.  Burdett stated "She has become a one-person army for the annual service project for the National Tournament that we started last year and each year she has extended the project into a learning experience for her students by involving them in the service projects."

                Luhr has been active in the NCFL since she was in high school and has served as Mount Mercy's Oratory and Debate Coach for the past 34 years.  She began in oratory and debate as a freshman in high school participating all four years, continued competing during her four years at Niagara University and coached at the University of Virginia for two years. While she was a student she was a State Champion and National Finalist in several different events.  As a coach at the University of Virginia, she coached state and national champions. 

                Luhr, a resident of Kenmore, is the assistant principal and a history teacher at Mount Mercy.