Waukesha Catholic Forensics Team

What is Forensics?

"Forensics" is a word rooted in the history of the Western world. The Greeks organized contests for speakers that developed and recognized the abilities their society felt were central to democracy. The word "forensic" comes from the Latin word "forensis", which at that time, meant "pertaining to the forum". It originally applied to the marketplace areas within ancient Rome where many types of businesses and public affairs, such as governmental debates and actions by courts of law were conducted. Today, Forensics is a Public Speaking and Acting Competition, which takes place starting in Middle School. Many High Schools and Colleges also have Forensics teams.

Why Do Forensics?

I believe that speaking skills provide the ability to present an idea or argument, and are critical skills for high school, college, and in the workforce. I will quote from this article by Yale University Professor Minh A. Luong:

The Wall Street Journal report did specifically highlight a “consistent trend” — one that forensic coaches have known for a long time — that dedicated participation in drama and debate has significantly increased the success rate of college applicants at all schools which track such data. State and national award winners have a 22% to 30% higher acceptance rate at top tier colleges and being captain of the debate team “improved an applicant’s chances by more than 60% compared with the rest of the pool,” according to the report. This is significantly better than other extracurricular activities that tend to recruit from the same pool of students as forensic teams such as school newspaper reporter (+3%), sports team captain (+5%), class president (+5), and band (+3). Even without winning major awards, participation in speech and debate develops valuable skills that colleges are seeking out and that is reflected in the above average acceptance rate (4%). Colleges and universities today are looking for articulate thinkers and communicators who will become active citizens and leaders of tomorrow.

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As a corporate advisor, I see the skills developed in forensics paying rich dividends as I work with talented managers at client companies and on teams with other consultants. Over the years, I have had discussions with many senior executives and managers, nearly all of whom identify effective communication, persuasion, and leadership skills as “absolutely essential” for success and advancement in their respective organizations. Many of these successful business executives, government leaders, and non-profit directors do not directly attribute their graduate degrees to their own achievements but rather they point to the life skills and work ethic learned in high school speech and debate that started them down the road to success.

More evidence comes from a monthly survey done by LinkedIn. Their Monthly Workforce Report Survey shows trends and gaps for both hard and soft skills in 20 regions across the country. The main report linked above does not show soft skills data, but if you look at the regional surveys, it does. Every month, across every region, the largest "soft skills" gap according to potential employers is for Oral Communication.

Why the gap? I believe that for most people, it's simply too much to overcome the fear of standing in front of a group of people. According to the annual Chapman University Survey on American Fears, year after year, people fear public speaking more than they fear death (and a lot of other scary things!). Forensics is an ideal way to learn and practice speaking skills, and build confidence by speaking or performing in front of an audience.

How does it work?

With the help of coaches, team members choose a category and prepare an oral presentation from one of eighteen different categories including Prose, Poetry, Storytelling, News Reporting, Solo Acting and Group Acting, Group Improvisation, and Demonstration. These selections are then performed at scheduled tournaments and festivals at area schools and sanctioned by the Middle Level Forensics Association of Wisconsin, where students perform in 2-3 rounds and are evaluated according to individual category standards. Based on scores received, students and the team can receive awards. Scores are also used to qualify for the MLFA State Tournament, where over 1,500 of the "best of the best" students from around the state compete for individual and team trophies.

The Waukesha Catholic Forensics Team practices once a week after school. Our practices are on Mondays after school, 3:30-5:30. Competitions take place in February and early March, on Thursday or Friday nights ,or Saturday or Sunday (one tournament per weekend). The State Tournament takes place in April 2019 (date TBD).

It is recommended that students who have a goal to participate in the State Competition sign up for three or more meets. There will be a fee of $30.00 to participate in Forensics. This fee will cover the cost of meet registrations and materials. Registration for the state competition will be an additional fee.

Congratulations on a great season to our 2018 team, who competed in 6 regular season tournaments, received 27 individual awards, and 2 First Place, 1 Second Place, and 1 Third Place team trophies. The entire team qualified for the State Tournament and was awarded a Fourth Place team trophy in the Large School division. We hope you will join us for the 2019 season! The first practice will be in November 2018.