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Forensics team not afraid to speak its mind

January 25, 2012 - By Olivia Shumaker

Special Writer for The Review

A lot of people would rather die than speak in public.

That does not include the 25 members of Lake Orion High School's forensics team, however.

The team is preparing for its first competition on February 4, at Ford Fest in Anchor Bay. According to co-advisor Lindsay Finkbeiner, they are working to improve their speaking skills in one of two areas, dramatic performances and public speaking, in a competition setting.

The public speaking competition includes categories such as broadcasting, impromptu and extemporaneous. In some cases, students write a speech ahead of time. In others, including the impromptu division, students receive a topic or passage and they give a four-to-six minute speech on it with mental notes and just a few note cards.

"A lot of the public address events run that way, where there's not one piece they're preparing—it's more on the fly," Finkbeiner said.

There also are various dramatic competitions, which involve students interpreting and performing a piece that someone else wrote—poetry, part of a movie or play, or a scene from a book. In this case, students rely more often on memorization.

"They're finding a piece and then they're dramatically performing that and competing against other students from across the state," explained co-advisor Catherine Srock.

Competition days are long. Students usually arrive at 7 a.m. and begin competing in rounds by 8:30 a.m. Each round involves students going into a room with a judge and performing their pieces. There may be multiple rooms for the larger competition categories.

Students compete in three such rounds before breaking for lunch, during which time the judges convene to figure out who scored the highest and qualified to move on to the semi-finals. Students who make the cut perform once again and the judges then calculate the results. Students then move on to the finals, competing for one of the top six places in the tournament.

"We tell a lot of them, especially those who are new to forensics, that this is a big learning day," Finkbeiner said.

Preparing for such events is largely the duty of the students. Srock and Finkbeiner tend to remain in advise-and-guide roles. "It's their baby," Srock explained. Students find their own pieces, write their own speeches and practice at twice weekly practices and on their own.

"It's nice to end the day with them," said Finkebeiner. "It takes a lot for students to want to improve their public speaking and they're all showing a lot of improvement."

Student captains Will Mason, Katie Gransom, Samantha Weaver and Sophia Mendez will be leading the team through the Anchor Bay tournament as well as competitions in Birch Run, Frankenmuth, Dexter and Walled Lake Central, ending the season with a tournament near the end of May at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

"We're excited to see where the season goes and what all the tournaments bring. Hopefully we'll have a good time in the process and maybe bring home some trophies," said Srock.

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