Categorized | Features

What is Forensics?

When most people hear the word Forensics, their minds automatically go to the science that is used in the case of a crime. According to The Free Dictionary, Forensics is “the art or study of formal debate; argumentation” or  “the use of science and technology to investigate and establish facts in criminal or civil courts of law.”


Coach Widener said, “Forensics is a great activity for students.  It’s not only fun, but it builds confidence in the participants.  Once they gain some confidence in talking to people and in front of people, they are more successful in school and in any career they might choose to pursue.  Because of that colleges love to see that a student has participated in forensics.”


If you join a high school forensics team, there are 10 different categories students can compete in. The fiction categories are humorous interpretation, serious dramatic interpretation, prose, poetry, storytelling, humorous duo interpretation, and serious duo interpretation. The non-fiction categories are extemporaneous speaking, impromptu speaking, and original oratory,


In humorous interpretation, students pick a funny piece to memorize and perform. The student also must have an introduction that mentions the name of the piece and the author. There are  no props/costumes and there’s a time frame of 10 minutes. Some important qualities for this category are voices, motions, gestures and poses. Serious dramatic interpretation is the same thing as humorous interpretation except instead of being funny the entire time, you just have funny bits inside of your more serious piece (hence serious dramatic).


In prose, your piece can be funny or serious. Instead of having your piece memorized, you must read it from a mini binder. You have to acknowledge and look at the binder even when you pretty much have your piece memorized. Although you don’t have to memorize your piece, prose performers have to have their introduction, with the name of the piece and author, memorized. You also have a time frame of 10 minutes in this category. Poetry is very similar to prose except you’re reading poems instead of a prose piece. The poem you choose must be published.


Storytelling is as it says, you’re performing a childs story that you’ve memorized. In storytelling you perform as if your audience is children. Your piece must be memorized and you need an introduction with the name of the story and the author. You have a 10 minute time frame in the category too.


Humorous duo interpretation is a category where 2 students pick a funny piece to memorize and perform. In this category you can’t look or touch your partner except during the introduction. You have a 10 minute time frame and you can’t’ have props! This is a funny category so you want to make your audience laugh. Serious duo interpretation is the exact same thing except you don’t want to be funny, you want to be serious.


Extemporaneous speaking is a category in which you pick a question (which you either will or will not know things about) and you have 30 minutes to research the question based on printed articles and magazines you’ve collected and brought with you. You’re allowed 1 note card to bring with you when you give your speech. You’re called in 1 at a time to give your speech to the judge. You have 7 minutes (the judge signals you your timing as you go along) to give your speech in which you must restate the topic exactly somewhere in it. You give the judge the topic slip on your way out.


In impromptu speaking you pick from 3 topics and have 7 minutes to choose a topic, come up with a speech and give it. You’re given hand signals for time and you’re allowed a note card for your speech.


In original oratory you write your own persuasive piece and then prepare to perform it. You’re trying to convince your audience to agree with you on the topic you’re speaking about.  It needs to be memorized, but you’re allowed 2 note cards when performing.  You have 10 minutes to perform and then you give your piece to the judge afterwards.


Last year, the WHS Forensics team had 10 students go to regionals. The students are Morgan Beckerdite (poetry), Marie Gilbert (humorous interpretation), Dana (Donna) Gallego-Garcia (humorous interpretation), Phillip Ryman (impromptu speaking), Tabby Steed (storytelling), Ruben Harris (original oratory), Catie Freeman and Robin Cooter (humorous duo), and Bobby Parolisi and Alisha Sharpe (serious duo). Three students, Marie Gilbert, Phillip Ryman, and Dana (Donna) Gallego-Garcia moved on to states. Marie Gilbert was the 3A VHSL State Champion in Humorous Interpretation.

The team posing for a picture after awards on the 10th.

Waiting for awards on Saturday Jan., 10th at the home meet.

Waiting for awards on Saturday Jan., 10th at the home meet.


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