Forensics team begins competition in debate-structured group events

This year, the team has added Friday night events to their tournament schedule


By Claire Boone

Preparing to compete in public forum debate on Friday, Feb. 23, freshman Manoj Turaga, senior Michael Sandri and freshman Luke Capri discuss speeches and notes at Shawnee Mission North.

Alison Booth, JagWire editor-in-chief

A small group of forensics team members gathered to compete at Shawnee Mission North last Friday, Feb. 23. Instead of memorizing acting pieces or practicing poetry in preparation, though, the team prepared to compete in a whole other side of forensics, a side that more closely mirrors the fall debate season.

In past years, the forensics team has competed solely at Saturday meets, competing in what are called independent events. Independent events, usually called I.E.’s, are just want they sound like: members compete individually, or sometimes with a partner, in acting scenes or in giving speeches. However, this year, the team has branched out and has begun competition in Friday meets, where they compete in events like public forum debate or mock Congress.

In public forum debate — in which three Mill Valley teams of two competed on Friday — students compete in teams to debate on a well-known topic, according to forensics sponsor Annie Goodson.

“Public forum debate is like a shorter, more accessible version of debate,” Goodson said. “It’s supposed to be the kind of debate that like anybody could walk off the street and listen to and understand and be able to make an educated judgement on even if you have no experience in debate.”

On the other hand, some team members also competed in mock Congress on Friday which, according to Goodson, reflects the structure of real-life Congress, where “kids propose legislation and then debate the merits of it and then vote on it.”

For junior Madelyn Lehn, who competed in mock Congress on Friday, events like these help her to expand her horizons.

“The main thing I have learned is that when you debate, nothing looks better than confidence,” Lehn said. “You can’t always debate your side of your political beliefs, which we all have come to learn and accept.”

Goodson said she thinks arguing notions you may not always believe in, like Lehn did, is good for her students.

“Especially right now,” Goodson said, “I think we get so solidified in our views and we won’t even consider somebody else’s position and this forces you to do that, which is just a good intellectual exercise.”

Lehn hopes the team continues to “break out of [their] comfort zones and push [their] boundaries so [they] can grow” throughout the rest of the season.

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