Winning With Words

This past weekend, my school’s Forensics team traveled to Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA to compete in the Pennsylvania High School Speech League (PHSSL) State Tournament.  From March 21st to the 23rd we competed, spent time with fellow Forensicators from neighboring school districts, and made great memories.

After the initial opening ceremony, the real fun began!  All of the competitors dispersed to their respective competing locations, and after an initial meeting for all Radio competitors, I headed over to the Degenstein Student Center, where I would be spending the rest of the day.

The competition was fierce.  I had to go against 72 other students from across the state, in two separate rounds.  We each had to read an “International News” story and a “Lighter Side” story.  We read our scripts behind a curtain and into a microphone to give the illusion we were actually broadcasting.  While I felt that I gave it my best shot, I unfortunately did not break to the second day of competition.

Jonathan and Brandon debated for six hours on legislation that they had previously prepared speeches on, and Bernie gave three Impromptu speeches over three rounds.  It was a late night; we didn’t get back to the hotel until 11:30 p.m. and then had to wait until midnight to receive the posting results.  Bernie did not break either, so only Brandon and Jonathan would be competing the following day.

After only 5 hours of sleep, we were up and running again, this time Bernie and I would be able to relax and hope that Jonathan and Brandon would break to the Super Session final round of Student Congress.  While waiting for hours and hours on end, we watched the Semi-finals of Humorous, and were amazed at the competitors.  It’s incredible to watch these kids perform, they capture the character’s personalities so well that you can’t help but be transported into their world.

Jonathan and Brandon’s chamber finally closes, and after a short lunch break, Brandon finds out he had broken into the Super Session.  While we were all disappointed that Jonathan did not advance, we were excited and hopeful that Brandon would have a chance to bring home a state title.

Mrs. Connor had to judge the final round of Extemp., so the three of us were stuck waiting for another few hours.  She finished up her rounds, and we left to start the three-hour drive back home.  After stopping at a Red Robin for dinner, we hit the road back to Shanksville.

During our drive home, we contacted Brandon, who informed us that he, unfortunately, did not place in the Super Session.  The State Champion ended up being Shannon Sotomayor, a fellow Congress student from Somerset.

While we all went home empty-handed, we had a great time and created memories that we will take with us long after we graduate and leave the world of Forensics behind.  Through this amazing activity, we are learning invaluable life skills.

Our daily after-school practices, long hours spent behind a keyboard writing endless Student Congress speeches, and ability to perform through bloody noses, sinus infections, and chest colds will pay off when we are faced with real-life situations that call for public speaking skills.  Each and every person involved in Forensics will be able to look back at their time in the activity and thank the coaches and teachers that spent hours coaching them to be their best, and saw them through the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Speaking for myself, becoming involved with Forensics has been one of the best decisions of my life, and I will truly miss it when I graduate and leave Shanksville.

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