Forensics Participants Build Various Skillsets

by Mallory Carlson ’19

Though there are many clubs at Sherwood, Forensics is a popular choice and is not only enjoyable for members but also helps with public speaking skills. Sometimes confused with debate club, it is important to note that students in Forensics competitions choose pieces to recite, often poems or their own speeches. These oral presentations either can be informative or persuasive, but are not the same as a debate in which students study a pre-selected topic and attempt to convince others of their position.

The Sherwood Forensics Team has been among the top competing schools in the recent past, with many students frequently placing in top spots. Each competition consists of students from schools across the county competing in various categories, like poetry or prose. Students may, per competition, enter up to two individual categories and up to two group categories, although the second option is less common. In each sector, the top third of performers move on towards the finals, which will take place this weekend at Blake High School (quarterfinals on February 9 and semifinals and finals take place on February 10).

“Forensics is different than debate in the sense that we compete based off things such as vocal inflection, eye contact, and stage presence. It’s more of a club for competitive speech making and storytelling than it is for debating about anything,” explained junior Caroline Sokol.

The first tournament of the year was on October 21, with multiple students placing in the top 5 of their categories. In Original Works, a new category in which students create and perform their own pieces, the Sherwood team did quite well, with sophomore Ben Martinez in fourth, junior Shay Johnson in third, and senior Natalie Murray in second. On the same day, Sokol placed second in the poetry category. The second tournament took place on December 9, in which three students qualified to move on. In poetry, Murray received first place and junior Mackenzie Phillips won second, and in prose Sokol placed third.

The team’s latest tournament, on January 20, was a continuation of their success. Murray tied for seventh place in the prose category, and a group piece, which is an ensemble of two or more people, qualified for the next round—Murray, senior Gabby Khan, and sophomore Adam Levine performed a piece named “The Future is in Your Tiny Hands.”

“Group pieces are a great bridge between acting and public speaking: you get your script in front of you, but you have to incorporate blocking, characterization, and a storyline,” said Murray, who is also co-president of the team. “It’s a perfect category for newcomers because you’re onstage with multiple people, so it takes some of the nerves away.”

If students are interested in learning more about Forensics, they have the opportunity—Forensics is being offered as a semester-long class starting next year and will be taught by the Forensics club sponsor, English teacher Christopher Goodrich.