By Daisy Creager and Ivey McDaniel| Staff writers

Senior Sydney Scott talks about the recent debate competition and the effect competing in UIL senior year has had.

Seniors Jessica Kowalski (left) and Sydney Scott (right) depict what UIL Debate has meant to them in their final year of high school.

Is forensics closer to theatre or debate?

There’s a part of speech and debate that’s similar to theatre, it’s called interp which is acting, but what I actually do is completely separate from theatre. It’s more politically focused. We give speeches on current events and the debate side of it is just that. What I do is Congressional Debate, and it’s an event where students stand up individually and give speeches on current events just like that.

How long have you been in forensics and what events have you done?

I’ve done this since the very first week of freshman year, all four years. I’ve done almost all the events. Not all the interp events, but I’ve done Congressional Debate, both of the Extemporaneous Speaking events which are Foreign and Domestic Extemp, I’ve done Lincoln Douglas debate, Original Oratory which is a ten minute speech on an important issue, I did a little bit of dramatic interpretation, poetry, I’ve kind of dabbled in all of it.

How did you prepare for the tournament? What is the competition process like?

For the state tournament we prepared but writing speeches and performing speeches. You can’t really prepare for Extemp events because you don’t know what the topic is going to be until right before the round, but you read up on current events. There was between 70 and 80 people in my event. The way we qualify for state is we do a series of tournaments in the fall, and for every time we place we get a certain amount of points. Once you get ten points you’re qualified. I don’t really remember the tournament I qualified at. Once you get to your senior year it’s not really that big a deal to qualify for state. I’ve known since probably September. The bigger deal was when I found out I finalled at state, that was a huge adrenaline rush.

What will happen at the next level and how will you prepare?

We just had the district tournament where we qualified for Nationals, we go to Nationals in June. That was really exciting, my partner Serina Garza and I qualified in public Forum Debate and we were ecstatic. It was a great moment. It’s in Indianapolis. There’s individual rounds, when you win a round you move on to the next level. We qualified in public qualified in public forum debate, so we’ll have to write cases, but they haven’t released the topic yet so we’ll have to wait.

What was your favorite thing about forensics in high school? What skills have you brought out of it?

My [favorite part] has definitely been meeting people all across the city and making friends at other schools. As for skills, obviously communication skills and..I don’t know how to phrase this, but loss of a fear of public speaking, like I don’t have a problem getting in front of huge crowds.

How did you get started in forensics? Will you continue it in college?

They didn’t offer [speech in debate in Dallas in middle school. I started in Flowermound my freshman year, I got interested in it because my eighth grade english teacher told me I should look into it, so I took the class and enjoyed it. {In college I will] do something similar, some type of public speaking, something similar but I’m not going to do speech and debate. After four years, I don’t want to do it any more. I’ll miss my friends in the circuit, the competition and the winning.

Senior Jessica Kowalski explains the theatrical side of debate, and the impact its had on her senior year.

What did you do in order to become state qualified?

March 1-3 my team and I competed at TFA (Texas Forensics Association) State in Amarillo, Texas. Johnson had 10 people qualify for the state tournament. Throughout the whole state, there were 1607 qualifications. Some students qualify in more than one event, but there were 1607 slots that were earned by Texas competitors. I qualified in Humorous Interpretation and Duet Acting. I placed in the top 20 in both events.

What happens at competitions, and what is the process like?

The State tournament is an endurance test. It takes a lot of energy and perseverance to do well. For each event, all the competitors compete in 3 preliminary rounds. You are ranked against 6-8 other people in your room by one judge. They then add your three ranks together and if your total is under a certain number, you break to the top 48, in quarterfinals. In quarters you have 3 judges that rank you separately. Once averaging those ranks together, they break to the top 28 or 21, based on numbers. Then the top 2 people in each room break to finals for the top 8.

What did you compete in?

There are two sides to forensics, debate and interp. Interp is the more theatre side, the acting side, while debate is self explanatory. Humorous Interpretaion (HI) is a ten minute excerpt from a humorous play where you play every character. My piece is called “Clue- The Musical!” by Peter Dipietro. It makes fun of the board game Clue! My duet is called “The Book of Mormon”. It is a broadway play that we cut to be an appropriate, humorous story. I am honored to perform that duet with my partner, Londa Ploetz. My coach is Mr. Jay Asterman. He does so much for us. He reads plays all summer to try and find good pieces that fill fit all of the performers on the team. Once pieces are chosen he assists in the movement and sound of the performance. Everything we accomplish is thanks to his hard work and support.

How did you feel when you heard you qualified?

When postings went up and I saw that I went as far as I did I was in disbelief. It is very difficult to break that far, and in HI, it is very rare for a girl to make it that far. Knowing that it was my last competition, as a senior, I was ready to perform with everything that I had. My goal was to give honor to the last four years of hard work and dedication through this final performance. I feel like I did just that.

What are your personal gains from the competition?

Speech and debate provided a home for me in high school. Everyone at tournaments is really friendly and hilarious. The energy is so high and the environment is so much fun that interp. was my favorite thing about high school! It gives a passageway for even the shyest of them all to come out of their shells and shine. I’ve made friends from all over the state while competing, friends that I will probably stay in touch with for years to come!




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About The Author

Ivey McDaniel is a senior at Claudia Taylor "Lady Bird" Johnson High school. This is her third year on in publications and is the Arts and Entertainment editor for the 2012-2013 school year. She is the president of Key Club, and an active member of Unity Club and NHS. Ivey works at the Garment Exchange and enjoys NPR, her cat Mochi, and the musical stylings of Neil Diamond.

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