A CCHS sophomore-senior team returned home with first place honors last week. Senior, Stephen Nickens and sophomore, Elizabeth Blight won third place in the Humorous Interpretation Duo category. The win qualifies the pair to advance to the state tournament on March 26th in Harrisonburg.
“We worked hard and practiced a lot,” Nickens said “And it paid off in the end.”
Blight echoed her performance partner’s sentiments saying, “We had to compete against eight other groups so it was great to be in the top three.”
“Forensics” competition includes a range of categories that students can select from to develop public debate or argument skills. Nickens and Blight’s selection was “Open to Interpretation–the Story of Hansel and Gretel.”
“The story is re-told in various styles including the traditional, CSI Miami, musical theater, Vaudeville, soap opera, and Shakespeare,” explained CCHS Drama Department instructor, Christine Brewer. “The piece can’t be more than 10 minutes long including an introduction, and the rules for presentation are pretty strict. The speakers can’t make eye-contact with each other, and must restrict their movements to an area the size of a hula-hoop around each of them. The speakers may switch places and face front or back, as long as they don’t make eye contact.”
Clarke County had hoped to field a team larger that only two students for this year’s Forensics regional tournament. Unfortunately, concurrent commitments for district choir and drumline combined with a school dance and a wisdom tooth extraction, destined only Stephen and Elizabeth to make the long trip to William Campbell High School in Naruna, Virginia.
Although the two students brought home top honors, competition was tough making the victory just that much sweeter.
“Another group had the same piece as us, but we were able to beat them and advance to the next round,” Stephen Nickens said.
“Knowing that they had the same piece, threw me a little at first, but then I came to terms with it and was able to focus,” Elizabeth Blight reflected. ”It may have given us an edge because we knew ahead of time that we had the piece. It was a surprise to the other group.”
Forensic competition provides students with life-long public speaking and reasoning skills that are useful in all aspects of life, but can be particularly valuable in professional politics and law. That being the case, it comes as little surprise that Nickens describes his favorite school subject as “English” while Blight enjoys “Math” and “Government.” Both students believe that Forensics competition will play an important role in whatever field they chose to enter after college.
“I like it because it teaches you presentation skills and it gives you better public speaking skills,” Blight said.
It helps you with maintaining eye contact and feeling comfortable in small groups,” said Nickens “I have no problem in a big auditorium, but in a classroom situation it is more nerve-wracking. Forensics helps with that.”