Forensics: Something to Talk About

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There is no place like prose for the Kettle Moraine High School Forensics team. The Forensics team is gearing up for this season’s competition, and state is on its way. The Forensics club is one of the smaller clubs on the Kettle Moraine High School campus, but those on the team are very passionate about what they do. Through long hours of practice and fighting off stage fright, the team is working hard to do their best this season.

The National Forensics League (NFL) was originally founded in 1925 right here in Wisconsin. It helped gain recognition for high school and middle school students participating in speech and debate activities. Kettle Moraine High School participates in the speech section of the League. The speech section is made up of many different categories, and each student gets to pick what area to compete in. Some of the most popular categories this year are poetry, solo acting, prose and farrago. Though each category has its own set of rules, they still follow the same basic grading scale. There are five different areas of grading; the introduction, the intellectual content, the emotional connection, vocal techniques and body language. Each person receives a grade from 1-5 in each category (5 being the best) and then an overall score of the total points. A perfect score is 25.

Competitions mainly take place on Saturdays, not giving the team very much time to sleep in on weekends. They have to be up early in the morning in order to get dressed up and make it to the schools on time. Once there, each student is given a letter and number to identify them, as well as a sheet with the schedule and spaces to jot down their room numbers. This code allows for students to remain anonymous. These codes also show where they will be competing. Each competition has three preliminary rounds. The students are responsible for getting the room number for each round and getting there on time. After each round, they can stay in the commons area and interact with the other competitors. Students often bring books or music to entertain themselves in between rounds, or just simply to calm them down from the stress of performing. The rooms are closed to the public. Only letting the 5-10 performers and the judge in. Once inside, the fun air of the commons drips away, leaving only focus.

After the three preliminary rounds, there is a power round. The judges take all of the students in the category and pick out the top 5-10 performers. These performers will have scored the best, as well as also left a good impression on their judges. They will compete in one extra round for a chance to earn trophies. At the most recent meet there was only one student who went to power round. During the award ceremony, the team was delighted to hear that the student had placed third overall in their category, bringing home the first trophy of the season. However, they still have a long way to go until state. They have two more “practice” meets until the scores start to really count. After that, they have sub district. There students need to score at least a 16 (out of 25) in two of the three preliminary rounds. If they pass subdistrict, they move onto district, where they need at least a 20 (out of 25) to make it to state. State functions like any other meet, except the competition is much more fierce. The Kettle Moraine team is working hard to make it to state.

Students of Kettle Moraine School for Arts and Performance don’t go through the competition just for fun. They are offered various personalized credit opportunities through this club. They are able to get credit in advanced topics in public speaking as well as english 1 or 2 if they write an original piece. They develop fundamental life skills as well. “I have gained a lot of public speaking skills, and I have definitely become more confident in front of strangers. I also feel that I have become a better poetry writer as well,” said Alex Sheppard, who has been a part of the club for the past three years. Most students agree that public speaking and self confidence are some of the main skills they gain. They are able to grow in their abilities in a fun and friendly environment. “My goal for our Forensics team is to foster a fun environment that encourages expression and creativity! I hope to facilitate an environment in which students can use speech and the arts to achieve a larger goal, to find their voice, or to serve as a creative outlet. I look forward to our team getting stronger and more confident, and I hope that all of you (the students) can achieve individual successes as well,” said Mrs. Rudi, the coach of the KM Team.

After the meet, students can take a breath of relief. The stage fright and intensity of the rounds dripping away as they carry on with their day. They continue to practice hard to do their best at these meets and represent Kettle Moraine in the world of public speaking.