Members of Forensic Union traveled to Cambridge, Mass. on Oct. 31 to participate in a public speaking competition hosted by Buckingham Browne & Nichols, also known as BB&N. In order to be invited, schools must be part of the International Independent School Public Speaking League.
This year, KO sent three students: senior Elan Stadelman, and juniors Christina Lu and Jane Liang. Accompanied by Forensic Union faculty advisor and English teacher Michelle Caswell, they competed against students from all over the world, including Peru, Shanghai and Bermuda.
At the competition, there were a variety of events in which students could compete. Elan, Christina, and Jane decided to compete in the same events so that they could prepare together.
The first event they chose was interpretive reading. For this event, both Chrisitna and Jane used their Speakers’ Forum pieces from English 4, while Elan prepared something new.
Their second event was completely impromptu. Students were given two minutes to think about a random topic before speaking about it for three minutes. This event tested their ability to make decisions quickly.
Finally, they competed in the radio newscast event. Each competitor received a newspaper and they had a total of 30 minutes to plan a four minute “top of the hour news broadcast.”
Elan explained that in order to prepare for the radio newscast event, they all sat down with the same newspaper during meetings and practiced finding the best headlines. “This was my favorite event,” Elan said.
In addition to competing, Elan, Christina, and Jane had the opportunity to explore Boston with Mrs. Caswell. They hit many of the main tourist attractions such as Quincy Market and the Museum of Fine Arts. They also took a tour of Harvard and went to a Bruins hockey game.
“Since we are all from Connecticut, Boston wasn’t foreign but it was cool to experience the tourist attractions with folks from other countries,” Mrs. Caswell said.
Everyone had a great time getting to know students from different schools. “Although we were each other’s competitors, we shared tips, reviewed each others’ work, gave helpful feedback, cheered each other on, and helped each other with the nerves we encountered,” Christina said.
Public speaking is a nuanced skill. For example, Christina explains that she has learned about civil discourse, how to appeal to a wide audience, and how to speak with a purpose.
Mrs. Caswell says she loves Forensic Union because the kids are enthusiastic and the student officers are great leaders. She also explains that although public speaking is part of KO’s curriculum, it is not always heavily emphasized, so being the faculty advisor to Forensic Union allows her to work directly with students on their public speaking skills.
“Being articulate on the spot is a life skill, and I think being part of Forensic Union is a great way to gain more confidence,” Mrs. Caswell said.
Christina said she agrees that Forensic Union has helped her gain confidence. “Before Forensic Union, I could never string my thoughts in a logical direction,” Christina said. “Along with that, I really learned how to command a room during presentations in-class and everywhere else.”
According to Mrs. Caswell, meetings are open to everyone regardless of experience if you happen to be on campus. “Something many people don’t know about with Forensic Union is that you don’t have to come to every meeting to be a member of the club,” Mrs. Caswell said.
Forensic Union will be hosting a competition of their own in February. The club has over 50 members now, but there is always room for more.
For those interested in getting involved with Forensic Union, meetings take place on Tuesday nights from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Mrs. Caswell’s room.