This past school year was the second year that BC offered a “revamped” Forensics Team. Forensics was offered at the school since the early ’60s, but went into haitus in 2010. In 2017, organizer Samantha Brisini ’07 restarted the team with five students, and this year saw the team grow to eight. “In just this short period of time, the team has enjoyed great success,” Brisini says. “Last year, one of the girls was a district champion in commentary, and this year, several students qualified for states and one qualified for nationals.”
Forensics team differs from debate clubs in that it encompasses both competitive speech and debate. The word “Forensics” comes from the latin word “forensis,” meaning to speak in the open or in public. The BC team competes in the National Catholic Forensics League in nine speech and three debate categories.
The speech categories are prose, poetry, informative, persuasive, humorous drama, serious drama, duo drama, commentary and extemporaneous speaking. The debate categories are public forum, Lincoln/Douglas and policy debate. At the state and national level, Student Congress is offered, where students engage in parliamentary debate as they would in an actual congressional house or senate. Some of the categories, like poetry, offers students a chance to interpret a published piece of literature, while others, like Lincoln/Douglas squares off two individuals to debate a hot button philosophical issue.
The team starts work in the fall. Students start thinking about what piece they would like to choose and what category they would like to enter. In November, they practice weekly to block out pieces, discuss ideas and practice the fundamentals of public speaking. The first competition is usually held during the second week of December. Competition continues on through January, culminating in regional and state competitions in March. Winners continue on to nationals held over Memorial Day Weekend.
This year, the team boasted two regional finalists, Molly Krumenacker and Courtney Hilyer, and semifinalists Alayna Przybys and Alexis Ditosti.
“I am very lucky that these talented ladies are all sophomores and freshmen this year!” Brisini says. “Molly excelled both this year and last year in the category of persuasive and is one of the best competitors in the area. Courtney qualified for national competition in Lincoln Douglas debate in her first year of Forensics Club. Alayna and Alexis are a terrifically talented duo drama team. I’m so incredibly proud of them and all of my Forensics students.”
Brisini is always looking for more students to join the Forensics Team, and she says the effects of joining will build skills that the students will use for the rest of their lives. “First and foremost, it teaches students how to be a good public speaker. It teaches them to speak loudly, clearly and articulately. They learn not to fear public speaking, and embrace talking to others. Those skills stick with a person for life and are extremely beneficial, no matter what profession one chooses,” she says.
Beyond public speaking, Forensics teaches good sportsmanship and fosters self confidence, both skills that will prove invaluable in their professional lives after graduation.
Brisini says that her favorite part of leading Forensics is the opportunity to see students succeed and gain confidence in themselves and their piece. “I am blessed to have wonderful students who are so receptive to suggestions and constructive criticism in order to make their piece better. I enjoy seeing the students grow from the start of competition in the fall to the tough competition vying for a spot at nationals and how far they’ve come. I always enjoy going to the competitions as well, especially the state championship held at Bloomsburg, which in my opinion is the best competition of the year.”