Another Successful Season!


Carolina C., Columnist

At St. Robert School the extracurricular activity of forensics is led by middle school ELA teacher, Ms. DeLapp. This year’s forensics team was just shy of 60 students and was aided by a handful of assistant coaches and parent judges. Recently, the forensics team took first place in the State tournament, for which competitors were required to pre-qualify in order to participate. St. Robert is proud to add another win at State to their list of accomplishments and is very proud of another successful season. 

Ms. DeLapp brought forensics to St. Robert many years ago. Since its inception, the forensics team has grown from around 10 kids to now almost 60 students! DeLapp wanted to bring forensics to St. Robert due to her own experiences: When I was in high school, I was on the forensics team. [I]t wasn’t until my experience in forensics that I learned how to use my voice to garner attention, respect, and communicate effectively. The nuance in effective communication and performance has made me a better person in so many ways and has greatly impacted my success in school as well as my career.” Ms. DeLapp brought forensics to St. Robert to bring social, emotional, and academic benefits to the students. Forensics helps kids step out of their comfort zone and be able to work on their communication skills. Being able to learn to use their voices effectively and speak in front of a room full of people is a massive life skill that people need later on in life. 

Moreover, this year St. Robert won 1st place at the State forensics tournament and has accumulated a very good reputation within the league, the Middle Level Forensics Association (MLFA). Even though St. Robert has had a big team that has remained State champs the last few seasons, this hasn’t always been the case: “My first year as a coach, there were only about 11 kids on the team, and I took 8 kids to the State tournament. That year, we placed 2nd in the small school division. After that, we moved up divisions each year as our team grew, continually placing 2nd in the divisions.” The competition was very hard for such a small team, but soon enough as the team grew as did the voices of the students at St. Robert. Now, the Bobcats have proven to be a very successful team at every tournament they attend. 

At those tournaments, Ms. DeLapp doesn’t only just coach, she runs the tab rooms. She says, The tab room is responsible for managing scores and rubrics as they come in, handling issues with judges and coaches, tabulating power rounds and final results, and lots of other little things. It’s a lot of staring at computers and running around the tournament putting out fires – metaphorical fires, not real ones!” Ms. DeLapp has a very important role within a forensics tournament as she makes sure everything is running smoothly so that there are no complications for the competitors or coaches. For several hours every weekend Ms. DeLapp runs around forensics tournaments, tirelessly working to make sure everything is up and running to ensure success for everybody. 

One forensics student, 7th grader Solana, enjoys forensics as one of her extracurricular activities at St. Robert. Solana participated in the category of storytelling for the second year in a row this year. Her piece was about “a walrus in a kids bed; it was supposed to be a humorous story.” Storytelling has a vast range of stories to be told, from sad stories to funny stories. Solana had to use many different voices and exaggerated actions and facial expressions to add more “flavor” to her story. When telling stories people need to act a lot in order to get their message across to the audience effectively. Each category comes with its own set of challenges and skills.  Solana says, “I think storytelling can be more complicated compared to categories like infomercial and moments in history because you have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there. I think it is easier to get a higher ranking in other categories because you don’t have to use voices or get embarrassed and it doesn’t take as much. Everybody is willing to do all of this in storytelling, so it is more challenging.” Others may argue that another category is more challenging as individuals are expected to research and write their own speeches. For Solana, putting together all of the voices as well as actions provide exciting challenges in her weekly practices and tournaments. To succeed in storytelling – and most categories –  people need to be able to step out of their comfort zone  and put themselves out there as Solana claims. Finally, Solana prepares tirelessly for her tournaments by practicing at home and school to ensure success she explains that “Preparing for a tournament takes a lot of practice. Also, Ms. DeLapp, our coach, is able to work hard and make sure that we feel confident about our piece.” Doing storytelling takes a lot of confidence due to all the elements that make up the story. Having to do all of the voices and actions in front of a room of people can be intimidating and scary so confidence is key. Being able to add all of these parts in a story does take a lot of practice, so Solana dedicates a time at home during the forensics season to perfect her story in addition to weekly practices with Ms. DeLapp. 

To add on, Ms. Matthews is starting to assistant coach for the forensics team. She enjoyed working with the team because “the time to work one-on-one for an extended period of time with a student, and just seeing the growth and improvement over the weeks was interesting to see.” There is a lot of growth through the forensics season, and Ms. Matthews enjoys seeing the progression throughout the forensics season. As an assistant coach, she does work with students during practices to help Ms. DeLapp. She gives lots of feedback and helps adjust everybody’s speeches so they are ready for success. Moreover, Ms. Matthews also judges in tournaments. She has been judging for several years and probably judges every category; her favorite categories to judge are: “the humorous solo acting, and I also like non-original oratory. I like humorous solos because I like the idea of it being memorized and creating a “fun piece”. And Non-original oratory – how a student can put their own spin on an already given piece.” Also, Ms. Matthews judged at State this year:“I think that every piece [at State] is really good and it’s hard to judge you just have to get super picky.” The competition at state is a lot harder than any other normal tournament. As a judge Ms. Matthews needs to get very picky when it comes to how people deliver their speeches. Ms. Matthews has to pick out every last detail in every speech to try and find and score the participants. 

At the end of the season St. Robert took home first place due to the hard work and time contributed by the students, coaches, judges, and volunteers to help St. Robert have another successful season.  


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