Photo used with permission from ruth phillips
SHS Forensics competed at their first meet of the year on Jan. 30 at the DeForest Tournament. To ensure the safety of all students and staff, the Wisconsin High School Forensic Association (WHSFA) has taken a new approach to competitions.
According to Ruth Phillips, Forensic Head Coach and District 11 WHSFA Chair, the DeForest Tournament was hosted live over Zoom this year.
“For the first meet, because of the bandwidth and so many students participating, the screens were off except for the person who is performing–which also is like you are performing in front of a black screen[…]” Phillips says.
Senior Raven Jensen, who has participated in Forensics since her freshman year, said this year’s virtual competitions have been “very different.”
“It was really crazy because normally there’s hundreds of people in a room, like a cafeteria, but it was just you sitting in your room.” Jensen continues, “I definitely prefer the in-person [competitions]. You get to see your audience more. You get a feeling for the people you’re performing in front of, and it feels more authentic.”
Despite the change in setting, several Forensics team members found success. Claire Hoppe (10), Laura Perry (10), and Morgan Twedt (10) received 2nd place in Group Interpretive reading; Raven Jensen (12) received 4th in Poetry; Kylie Nelson (11) and Payton Collins (11) received 4th in Play acting; Ella Loup (9), Grace Greenwald (9), Molly Gracyalny (9), and Lou Brodrecht (9) received 6th in Play acting. Stoughton placed 8th place overall out of the 27 teams that attended the meet.
Team members are now preparing for the two upcoming February meets: Sub District on Feb. 17 and Friday Night Lights (Milton Invite) on Feb. 26. Unlike the DeForest Tournament, these meets require competitors to pre-record their piece in advance as a substitute for a live performance.
“Our videotape (of a performance) gets submitted for [it] to be judged by three different judges, and that will determine whether or not they go to districts. So not only are you performing, but you have to have a good quality tape of yourself–and that’s the challenging thing [because] you might be up against school districts that have their own area to video,” Phillips says.
To prepare for upcoming meets, competitors will “[…] be coming to practices twice a week and working on their own pieces individually at home,” Phillips says.
About the preparation process, Jenson says, “[…] we often practice in front of each other, and then get feedback. [We] practice in front of our coach and get feedback and improve from there. We’ll take notes, write stuff down. And it’s just adjusting little by little until you feel like you got it down. But you never really stop practicing. You can always get better, and so until the last meet we’re just practicing all the time.”
After the Milton Invite and Sub District, qualifying competitors will attend the Badger Conference on March 13, District on March 16, and WHSFA State Festival at Madison on April 16-17, according to the SHS Forensics website.
Jensen says, “[…] if you are interested in Forensics, you have a ton of options to try so many different things. It’s unbelievable–the list [of options]–and you should definitely go for it because it is amazing and I don’t think you will regret giving it a chance.”