Forensics teams head to stateDroves of Douglas County students are taking the road to the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Friday.
By: Anna Kurth, The Daily Telegram
Droves of Douglas County students are taking the road to the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Friday.
The forensic teams at Superior and Northwestern high schools are headed to state competition this weekend in their individual and group public speaking events.
Superior’s entire forensic team of 27 students and 30 Northwestern students will make the trip.
It’s the first time in more than a decade all students on the SHS team have gone to state, said Allison Conley, SHS assistant forensic coach.
“Generally we don’t bring the entire team,” she said.
“There’s always a few who will not make it on to state — unfortunately. To be able to bring the entire team is an honor.”
Northwestern lost about five members during rounds of competition leading up to state. Thirty is a good number to advance. It would be hard to have more students participating in a school’s forensic program, said Pat Loustari, an NHS forensic coach.
“We have that many kids interested in the arts at Northwestern ... and when you have that many who are, you can get a goodly number for forensics,” she said.
The students know the secret to getting a large number of competitors to state.
It takes hard work, said Tim Sislo, SHS freshman.
And practice, said Caitlin Pendleton, SHS freshman.
Superior’s forensic coaches hold auditions in early December then get their students working on competition pieces during winter break, she said.
Forensic competition includes 15 categories of events that reflect the variety of public speaking such as acting, speeches, demonstrations, poetry and prose.
Pendleton is competing in the prose category. For her speech she took passages from Margaret George’s novel “Helen of Troy.”
She wrote an opening to explain the book, chose passages to read and analyze, wrote transitions between each reading and wrote a conclusion.
After writing their competition pieces in December, students began practicing and editing. Since forensic competitors participate in individual or small group events, their practice times are often spread throughout the day.
At Superior High School, students meet in small groups with a coach and a few teammates to critique one another’s performance either before or after school, Conley said.
At Northwestern, students schedule practice time with their coaches before and after school, after play or track practices or during lunch or homeroom, Loustari said.
Many of the forensic students go from participating in the one-act play in fall to participating in the school musical and forensics simultaneously in winter. It’s a busy time, she said.
The first forensic competition is in March and students continue revising their speeches and performances until state competition.
After district competition they work on improving what the judges have critiqued in their performances. Beyond what they’ve written, forensic students are judged on their movements, eye contact, gestures, speaking voice and facial expressions, Conley said.
All the critiques make forensic participants good public speakers in other classes and prepares them for college, students said.
“It’s a good confidence booster,” said Betsy Hauerwas, SHS junior.
Forensic students have to be around a lot of people and learn to take criticism well, she said.
Before she started forensics junior Laura Thompson said her hands would get sweaty and she would sway whenever she gave a speech, now she’s comfortable with public speaking because she’s presented her competition piece so many times.
Forensics helps to get rid of bad habits when speaking such as bad posture, swaying and vocal pauses, the students said.
“It can help you in everything,” said SHS sophomore Nikki Nikunen.
Anna Kurth covers education. Call her at (715) 395-5019 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.