CADILLAC — Since the 1990s, Cadillac High School students have been competitively speaking.
What that means is the students have been involved with the forensics team and this year the Cadillac team finished in eighth place at the Class B state tournament. That is the best a team has finished for Cadillac and the hope is that it is only the start of bigger and better things.
Making it to the semifinals for the Vikings were Matthew Brines, 12th place in Dramatic; Courtney Jacobson, 11th in Oratory; Amber Smith, 10th in Storytelling; Joshua Jacobson, eighth in Extemporaneous; and Erin Dusa, seventh in Informative.
Cadillac Forensic coach Kris Darrow has been at the helm of the team for nine years and she said forensic speaking is a competitive speaking activity in which students select one of 14 categories to compete. Those categories are divided into two larger classifications — public address and interpretation.
The public address event can include things such as sales speaking, impromptu speaking, and informative speaking. In public address events, participants write their own pieces, Darrow said. The interpretation events include things such as poetry interpretation, children’s storytelling, and dramatic interpretation. In interpretation events, students perform pieces not written by them, according to Darrow.
In Cadillac, the forensic team is part of a co-curricular class and typically 25-30 students take it, Darrow said. She also said some students only take the class for a year while others will take it for four years.
“As a part of the class, students are expected to participate in invitational competitions on Saturdays during February and March in preparation for the regional tournament in April,‘ she said. “A strong performance at regionals qualifies students for the state tournament in May.‘
While the students are graded, Darrow said it also helps to build confidence in public communication and the ability to incorporate constructive criticism in their lives.
Considering Cadillac is competing against programs that have more resources, both financial and in personnel, the eighth place finish is “tremendous.‘ That said, Darrow also acknowledged the support the team does receive from the district and its board.
“At the state tournament, the top six teams in Class B are awarded an engraved silver plate signifying their success. Our goal has always been to win one of those. We are just two places away,‘ she said. “Our team did so well this year because they continued to work on, practice with, and refine their pieces right up to the state tournament. Their pieces were fresh. I am hoping that my returning members model this level of competitive discipline for next year’s new recruits.‘