Forensic Union hosted a successful public speaking competition at KO on Sunday, Feb. 9. Ten schools were invited including Choate, The Windsor School, Roxbury Latin, St. Sebastian, Taft, Northfield Mount Hermon, Stoneleigh Burnham, Buckingham Browne & Nichols, and Joel Barlow.
This was one of the largest competitions that KO has ever hosted. “This was a big accomplishment for us because we had 70 competitors this year, whereas last year we only had 30,” faculty advisor and English teacher Heather Wayne said.
For this specific competition, KO assembled a novice team. This gave the new members of Forensic Union a chance to practice their skills.
“We have a lot of enthusiastic novice public speakers and debaters, so this was a great opportunity for them to practice,” Dr. Wayne said.
These competitors included freshman Arav Kumar, sophomore Shumayl Syed, sophomore Minseo Kim, freshman Jaeden Curcio, freshman Manu Narasimhan, and freshman Frank Pu.
More experienced debaters helped run the competition and advise newer members.
“I didn’t compete, but I helped the newer kids brainstorm topics and ideas,” junior Christina Lu said. “I also proofread their essays and gave them suggestions on their delivery.”
The structure of the competition was divided into four rounds. There were two rounds of after dinner and persuasive speeches; these categories are open ended and prepared in advance. There were also two rounds of impromptu and ethical dilemma speeches.
During these categories, students are given a random topic with two minutes to prepare for a three to five minute speech.
According to Frank, his favorite category to compete in is persuasive speeches. “At the beginning, it was stressful to write my speech, but I learned to be brave on stage,” Frank said. “This helped me to develop critical thinking skills and organize my language.”
Competitors were scored by a panel of judges consisting of students and faculty from each school. Science teacher Lisa Bailey, history teacher Ted Levine, and English teacher Cameron Biondi were faculty judges for KO. Scores are based on several components: identifying problems, effectiveness of solution, knowledge of topic, use of evidence, clarity of thought, structure, and delivery.
Overall, the competition was very successful. “I was really proud of the solid performance put in by our entire group,” faculty advisor and English teacher Michelle Caswell said. “Everyone worked hard and supported each other.”
Hosting the tournament required a lot of hard work and organization. Both Dr. Wayne and Mrs. Caswell were facilitators for the competition.
Additionally, Dr. Wayne ran the tab room, which kept track of all of the logistics such as score cards, room assignments, judges, and time.
Since the competition lasted for several hours, Sage Dining also set up a brunch for people to enjoy throughout the day. “Thanks to all of my officers as well as the volunteers who helped out,” Mrs. Caswell said.
Forensic Union meets on Tuesday nights, and meetings are open to anyone.
“I would encourage people to try Forensic Union because it has taught me a lot about public speaking and it’s also really fun,” Christina said.