Students find their success in Forensics



February 22, 2014 - 12:00 AM

When most people hear the word forensics they think of a CSI crime scene. It has a different meaning for Iola High School students. Forensics is competitive acting, speaking, reading and debating.
Students have multiple events from which to choose at a meet. They prepare a piece to act out or read and then perform it in front of judges for three rounds. After scores are calculated, those at the top go on  to finals and compete for a place. The top two qualify for state.
Regina Chriestenson, Iola High’s drama instructor, said there about 30 students are on the Forensics team this year.
Mackenzie Weseloh and Halie Cleaver compete in duet acting. They placed third earlier this year at the Neodesha tournament. Iola was first overall as a team.
“Three groups tied for first in finals,” Weseloh said. “They had to look at all of our performances from that day to decide.”
For Weseloh and Cleaver, Forensics is activity filled with friends. Cleaver joined the Forensics team last year as a junior.
“I wanted to get better at public speaking and try something different,” she said. She also competes in informative speaking.
Judd Wiltse, sophomore, joined Forensics on a whim his freshman year.
“I heard this announcement one day at school and I thought it sounded really cool,” he said. “I found a partner and we were terrible at duet but really good at IDA (improvised duet acting).”
Wiltse said he has attempted to recruit friends to join.
“You don’t have to be an Oscar-worthy actor, you just have to be confident,” Wiltse said. “There are many events to choose from.”
Since there are various categories, competitors don’t have to stick with just one event.
Olivia Bannister, a sophomore, performed a humorous solo piece last year but decided to go a different direction.
“I used to watch serious solo finals and I decided to try it this year,” Bannister said. “I love when you make the judges cry or laugh because it means you made them feel.”
Chriestenson teaches forensics as a course but students don’t have to be in the class to be a part of the team. She requires her students to attend three meets during forensics season as part of their grade.
“You can go to as many meets as you want to,” Weseloh said.
Chriestenson’s students are able to practice in class and receive feedback on their competition pieces.
The four students agreed that Marmaton Valley is their biggest competition at a tournament.
“We beat them at Neodesha, which I think surprised them,” Cleaver said.
The next tournament for the Iola team will be in Parsons this weekend.

May 2, 2017
May 7, 2014
February 6, 2012
April 19, 2010