West Springfield High School Newspaper

The Oracle

A different kind of sport

Sophomore+Ellie+Callahan%2C+a+member+of+the+Forensics+team%2C+demonstrates+her+speech+that+she+has+been+practicing+for+the+forensics+competition.
Sophomore Ellie Callahan, a member of the Forensics team, demonstrates her speech that she has been practicing for the forensics competition.

Sophomore Ellie Callahan, a member of the Forensics team, demonstrates her speech that she has been practicing for the forensics competition.

Helen Heaton

Helen Heaton

Sophomore Ellie Callahan, a member of the Forensics team, demonstrates her speech that she has been practicing for the forensics competition.

Helen Heaton, Managing Editor

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It’s an unusual club whose members have to insist that no, they do not examine corpses. Forensics, the school’s competitive speech team, is obscure, to the point where non-members often have no idea what it is, let alone that it’s a VHSL sport.Part of the problem is its size: members are few since many are afraid of performing.
“I think a lot of people are really hesitant to do it because they think public speaking is really scary, but when you start to put yourself out there and you drop the nerves, then it actually can be something more exciting,” said senior Ana Bakke, who has done Forensics for six years and is the daughter of the coach. Part of this excitement is the freedom Forensics offers, as it allows members to compete in a variety of different categories.
“You’ve got two different areas you can focus on,” said sophomore Ellie Callahan. “You’ve got your interpretational, which is, like, poetry, prose, storytelling, different things; and then you’ve got your non-interpretational, so it’s, like, memorizing someone else’s speech–Declamation–and then performing it, making your own speech and performing it, talking about current events, or Impromptu, talking off the top of your head about random subjects.” The last is particularly popular among Forensics members at WS. Sophomore Simar Dhillon enjoys the opportunity to think on her feet.
“I like Impromptu because it tests how creative your mind is, because you don’t really–you can’t prepare for that, so you just go and you choose three papers, and it’s just random things–it could be a quote, it could be ‘food,’ it could be ‘pens,’ or it could be ‘Queen Elizabeth’ something–and you just use your imagination and you just kind of go off of that. So that’s really fun; I really like doing that,” said Dhillon.
However, while Impromptu requires no preparation, other categories are more of a commitment. Bakke estimates that she spends roughly two hours a week practicing her piece. Her favored category is Original Oratory, for which she wrote, memorized, and performed a speech on social traps.
“I would say rehearsing your speech is the biggest thing that you have to do to practice for [competitions]. It also means going through, line by line, not necessarily doing it once and being done but really working hard on each and every detail,” said Bakke. Despite the hard work Forensics requires, members have seen its benefits in everyday life.
“I think it’s made me a lot more willing to speak in front of groups, that’s for sure. I think it’s also helped me think on my feet a little bit more. Impromptu is the category that I do a lot, and it helps me form arguments better as well as speak on topics that I’m not familiar with at all,” said Bakke.

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West Springfield High School Newspaper
A different kind of sport