Every Parsons High School forensics student who made Saturday’s tournament in Independence earned a medal. The team finished fifth overall.
“I wasn’t entirely sure what I thought of this tournament,” said PHS forensic coach Ed Workman. “Iola was there. Olathe South introduced herself. It was pretty cool. There were 12 schools.
“A lot of times when it comes to forensics it’s one thing that’s overlooked or underappreciated, and that’s the judge pool, because the members of the community make up the judges. Sometimes the difference between a fantastic rating on your performance and an OK rating on your performance is that the judge says, ‘I enjoyed her more’ or ‘I liked her better’”.
“It’s been a good experience for the boys because independence is always a little bit different from the rest,” he said. “It’s like when we go to Pittsburg, we know we’re going to have a lot of Pitt State students and Pitt State professors and that kind of culture. We go to Coffeyville and we know what we’re going to get. We go to Independence and they’re the ones that have the Inge Festival and the ICC and it’s a much more diverse community than a lot of them that we go to. I always enjoy going there as it gives us a chance to get a feel for where we really are.
This is a year, especially with some of the students who are in the classroom, where Workman says he’s not as focused on the students’ state qualifications as he normally would be. Rather, he’s thinking more about what they’ll do in the state once they get there.
“Sometimes the goal is to get kids to state so they have the experience,” Workman said. “We have some people that the question is ‘Where do we end up in those top six?’ I don’t want to bring us bad luck by saying ‘champion aspirations’”.
Although the competition was fiercer, Workman said PHS forensic students continued to show their determination and determination.
Chloe Pontious refers to as the Swiss Army knife of the team, trying out the most diverse events.
“He keeps getting better and better at those,” Workman said. “This time she focused on impromptu speaking. That’s where you draw three topics, choose one. It could be a famous person, a quote, something like that, and you have five minutes to give a speech. So, it’s a real test. She’s more of an accomplished actress and speaker than an out-of-this-world person, so she’s stepped out of her comfort zone with hers.
In a crowded field, Pontious finished fourth.
Another outstanding performer was Olivia Martinez.
“It never ceases to amaze me. She sets her mind on goals and sees them. She debuted her poems last weekend and she got there before her, because that’s what she does, I guess,” Workman said. “And poetry is one of those areas that probably gets the most entries of any event. Prose and poetry are the two great ones.
For many competitors, they find it easy to add. When competing in other areas where a lot of memorization is required, the poem doesn’t have to be as memorized and is more about performance.
“What I like is that most people who choose poetry, they’re talking about topics that come from their own experience and things that they actually have an emotional attachment to, something near and dear to them, something they have a message for,” she said. “Like Olivia is doing one about the experience of being a Latina, because it makes things different in being, like one of her poems is referencing a light skinned Latina, where it’s not obvious what your culture is and how to sometimes you find yourself as an outsider in both worlds.
In addition to taking first place in poetry, the “super-talented” duo, Martinez and Rayce Baker, finished second in duos, again flipping the spots with Pittsburg, who placed second in duos at the last tournament while Parsons placed first, and vice versa at the first tournament.
“They keep passing it back and forth. It makes the season fun, because sometimes you can only compete against yourself it seems like that kind of thing,” Workman said. “It’s cool, because it’s important when you compete at a high level, to find the things that motivate you. “they really took it as a motivation. There are some people who qualify for state and then they might not compete in that again for three or four weeks because they finished that qualifier. But like I said, we have big aspirations for that, so They keep bringing it out and improving it and Pittsburg keeps improving theirs. I love it. It’s kind of sharpening steel.
The pair also finished fourth in the improv duet.
In other rankings, PHS students have earned the following medals: Madelyn Armitage, sixth place in US extemporaneous speaking; Makenzie Taliaferro, fifth in impromptu foreign; Brelin Summers and McKia Lawrence, sixth as a duo; Lawrence, sixth in dramatic performance; and Shea Clark, fourth in humorous performance.
This Saturday, the PHS forensic team will participate in the Fort Scott tournament.