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Seniors speak of Forensics success

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Seniors speak of Forensics success

The seniors on the Forensics team have devoted their final year to coaching novices.

The seniors on the Forensics team have devoted their final year to coaching novices.

RICHELLE BURKE

The seniors on the Forensics team have devoted their final year to coaching novices.

RICHELLE BURKE

RICHELLE BURKE

The seniors on the Forensics team have devoted their final year to coaching novices.

AMBER YANG, STAFF WRITER

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From practices nearly every day to competing at national tournaments, dedication runs anything but short amongst the seniors on the Speech and Debate team. Seniors Marc Lacognata, Liam Philiben, Joseph Robillard and Miles Saffran are experiencing an overwhelming amount of success this year.

They began their Forensics endeavors at the beginning of their freshman year and are now nationally ranked amongst other top competitors. Robillard and Saffran are both ranked number one in the nation in Oratory and Extemporaneous Speaking, respectively.

Recently, they attended the Blue Key Speech & Debate Tournament at the University of Florida, a national tournament, and individually all four received first place in their respective divisions. Lacognata and Philiben received first in Duo Interpretation, an event where two students memorize and perform a literary selection of dramatic nature.

Saffran received first in International Extemporaneous Speaking, an event in which competitors are given 30 minutes to prepare a seven minute speech concerning a current international topic. Robillard received first in Original Oratory, where students write, memorize and deliver a speech of their own choice. After all of their success, the seniors look back to when it all began.

“I came from a theater background in middle school, and I was told that I should do Forensics,” Robillard said. “At first I wondered what theater had to do with CSI, but I joined when I heard about the free pizza.”

For others, the decision was completely by chance.

“I accidentally came to the Novice Workshop, and I walked into the Extemp room,” Saffran said. “That was it for me.”

Immediately upon joining, the group realized that a great amount of effort was needed for success, and they worked together.

“It [is] fun to share the stage with a partner. If we fail, we fail together; and if we succeed, we succeed together,” Lacognata said.

They agree that Forensics has required a huge commitment over the years. Preparation for tournaments necessitates hours of speaking, as well as writing and refining performed pieces.

“In order to prepare for [Extemporaneous Speaking], I have to read news articles about an hour a day and make a few speeches a week because the topic of the speech is not known until the competition,” Saffran said.

They believe that Forensics has greatly influenced their success in the classroom environment as well as improved their public speaking skills.

“AP Economics is a breeze for me,” Saffran said.

Currently, all four are on the Varsity travel team and therefore attend a variety of national tournaments. Many of these tournaments necessitate missing days of school, and there is a rigorous travel schedule.

“We have missed lectures and tests, and sometimes that can affect our grades,” Philiben said. “Most of the time we are never here on Fridays.”

All four agree that their main motivation for attending these tournaments is winning the trophies.

These seniors are currently some of the most experienced members on the team, and they have the responsibility of providing advice to the novices or new members.

“The novices remind me of myself,” Philiben said. “During our novice year, there were people on the team who won first place at the Blue Key Tournament which inspired us to do well, and this year we won.”

They hope to leave a legacy of inspiration and success to the next generation of Forensics students.

“It’s almost as if there is this cycle, and we hope to continue that cycle with our novices,” Lacognata said.

Together they realize that their success is credited to their Forensics instructors- Mr. Vigars, Mr. Rhoads and Mrs. Butrimas. Their instructors have greatly inspired them throughout the years, and they have helped them in times of need.

“At a [tournament] last year, Marc and I were both entered in two events, and we weren’t prepared,” Philiben said. “We called Mrs. Butrimas to ask if we could drop one of the events, but she told us to go out there and have fun instead. As a result, I ended up semifinaling.”

They agree that the Forensics coaches have always been there to support all of their students.

“Mr. Rhoads has a happy aura, and he is always someone you can talk to whether you are really happy, or if you didn’t win,” Robillard said. “He always knows what to say.”

Recently, Robillard and Saffran became the two-time defending champions of Original Oratory and Extemporaneous Speaking at the Bronx Speech & Debate Tournament. They were the first to ever accomplish this feat at the Bronx Tournament.

Upon finishing their last year of high school Forensics, Lacognata, Philiben, Robillard and Saffran believe that they will continue their interests throughout college.

In fact, Lacognata and Saffran have already been accepted into the George Mason University Forensics team. The program is highly renowned across the nation, and the team is consistently ranked among the top schools in the nation. They have all been offered coaching positions in various local high schools, and they look forward to coaching jobs during college.

Their last words to incoming freshmen are, “Join the Forensics team.”

 

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About the Writer
AMBER YANG, Editor-in-Chief

Amber Yang is a senior entering her fourth year on staff. She is currently Editor-in-Chief but has a love for writing controversial pieces for the Opinions...

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