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The forensics team prepared for Montgomery County Forensic League (MCFL) finals on Feb. ninth and tenth. “Forensics is a speaking and acting team (not science), and we compete in the Montgomery county forensics league. Some of the categories we have are persuasive speaking, humor, and children’s literature,” club president and junior Rathna Ramesh said.
Competitions involve each member of the team performing prepared pieces in front of a judge, and a group of fellow students, four times. “The judges are given a rubric with points for techniques such as hand gestures, vocal inflection, and eye contact. After all four rounds at a qualifying competition, the rankings are added together, and the top third of the participants in each category advance to finals,” Ramesh said.
Pieces fall under nine individual categories, poetry, prose, humor, drama, children’s literature, original works, informative, persuasive, and extemporaneous speaking, and two group categories, reader’s theater and ensemble acting. “To prepare for finals, we have been warming up with games designed to target certain skills such as characterization and use of gestures. Then we practice our pieces and give each other feedback, keeping an eye out for the corrections that judges gave us during the qualifying round,” Ramesh said.
Even though they compete separately, the forensics team practices together in order to improve. “To prep for finals, I have been practicing my pieces and getting constructive feedback. That’s the most invaluable part; my teammates know what they’re talking about and offer clear, specific advice about how I can improve, which I really appreciate,” junior Alexis Bentz said.
That feedback is how the team becomes the best they can be. Making the changes that their teammates recommend is what allows team members to better themselves from the qualifying round to finals. “The team prepares for finals by presenting their pieces to each other each week. They give verbal and written feedback with what they think they’ve done well, as well as the things that they could each work on. The expectation is that the next time we meet they’ve made the changes. The team does very well at competitions, and stands a high chance at being very successful at finals,” coach and English teacher Catherine Boswell said.
The forensics team placed fourth in the county last year and is currently in second place. “Considering the fact that our team is a third the size of most of the other teams in the top five, I’d say we’re pretty good and we’ve worked really hard to get there,” Ramesh said.
Forensics is a tight knit group, numbering around 15 people. Students who join can expect to learn new skills without being overwhelmed by preparatory work. “Forensics is a great way to improve public speaking skills, which prove valuable later on, especially in college and job interviews. Forensics is also a supportive environment and requires less preparation work and we don’t have to memorize our pieces, so it’s easier to fit into a busy schedule,” Ramesh said.