Wait, What? Public Speaking for Fun?
Many people have heard of the term “forensics.” However, upon conjuring the word, most people picture a crime scene and not a podium. While the term “Forensics” is associated with criminology, Forensics is also a speech and debate association, a program originally founded right here in Wisconsin. Over 130,000 students and coaches partake in Forensics in the United States every year. Forensics is lesser known compared to other extracurricular options, but many students from schools all over the country display a passion for the activity. Kettle Moraine happens to be a school district that gives students opportunities to be part of Forensics from elementary school through high school.
The high school group has been growing steadily larger since its start a few years ago. In Forensics, students compete against one another in many different categories and showcase their abilities in speech, theater, and writing. At the end of every meet, categories are ranked based on the judge's assessment in the few areas of criteria. They base the decision on vocal variation, body language, content, and various other sections.
To the surprise of many, Kettle Moraine has a Forensics club within the school district. The high school level club is very small, with only about ten students who participated in competition this season. The club did not exist a few years ago, but was brought together by Dontae Hill, the coach of Brookfield East and the former head coach of KMHS. The club’s head coach is now Gregg Wandsneider, though Hill still participates in the coaching. When asked why he believed Forensics is important, Hill replied;
“First, this is a great opportunity to make friends with people who live far away or people that may not even have the same interest as you because Forensics has the ability open your eyes to so many new things. Also, it prepares you for competition like a sport. Some students may not compete in a sport, just Forensics, and that's ok because the great reasons to compete in a sport mirror Forensics in regards to competition.”
The team competes in the WHSFA (Wisconsin High School Forensics Association), which is one of many different leagues scattered throughout the country. Forensics is a brilliant way to teach kids how to speak in a professional environment and in public spaces. Along with improving theatrical and literary abilities, the club provides opportunities for all forms of performance, ranging from moments in history, to poetry or humorous solos. This wide range allows for kids of all backgrounds and personalities to partake in competition. “Forensics means confidence. There is this amazing feeling as a student to know that you overcoming this fear of speaking in public and there is such a wonderful feeling as a coach to know that your students are taking the opportunity to do something about that,” Hill stated.
The group is fun and beneficial for improving public speaking, though it does take courage to get up on stage in front of a bunch of strangers. The diversity of the club provides a one-of-a-kind experience that can help develop skills for the future. It is good for everyone to go through to process of performing at a Forensics competition. Kettle Moraine’s club is growing and hopefully will continue to encourage students to step outside their everyday comfort zone.