A Team of Strength and Perseverance

Forensics & Debate Spotlight


Photo by: Nour Goulmamine

The Forensics & Debate secure multiple wins in their first invitational of the season at Midlothian High School.

Being part of the Midlothian High School Forensic Speech (also known as Forensics) & Debate team requires incredible dedication and grit, and every year, students go above and beyond to show the team’s strength. Debate students spend hours researching building their cases, and speech participants practice frequently to memorize their monologues. No matter the event students participate in, all Forensic members represent Midlothian High School in competitions, performing in front of judges and against students from as far away as King George County. Mr. Daniel Cheatham coaches Speech students, and Mrs. Beth Morris mentors the Debate team.

Forensic Speech & Debate offers a multitude of events for students to choose. Some popular speech events include: Prose Interpretation, an event in which competitors read a prepared fiction or nonfiction monologue, and Poetry Interpretation, which involves reading a collection of poems the competitor has chosen that either revolves around a theme or poet. These are especially popular with students as they are the only speech events where students do not have to memorize a piece. Dramatic Interpretation (separated into two subcategories: serious and humorous interpretation) is similar to prose, except rather than reading from a script, participants are expected to memorize their piece.

Other events include: Storytelling, in which students dramatically perform a children’s story as if they are presenting it to an audience of children; Duo Interpretation (serious and humorous interpretations), which is similar to dramatic interpretation, except two students perform a piece together rather than performing alone; Duo Improvisation, in which two partners are randomly given characters and a scenario in order to improvise a short sketch; Extemporaneous Speaking, a challenging event in which students have thirty minutes to prepare a seven minute persuasive speech about a current event they are randomly given; Impromptu Speaking, where participants choose one topic from three options and are given seven minutes to prepare and perform a speech; Original Oratory, where students perform a pre-written speech on whatever topic they wish; and Original Spoken Word, a mixture of Poetry and Original Oratory in which students perform a pre-written poetry or prose piece they have prepared before the competition.

Although Debate students do not have as many options, their competitions are just as entertaining. The main events include: Congressional Debate, for which individuals argue in defense of or against Congressional legislation they have written; Lincoln-Douglas Debate, a one-on-one timed debate in which students debate a positive or negative side to a value; and Public Forum, where two teams debate controversial topics from newspaper headlines.

After choosing one or two events in which to compete, students first start the season by entering invitationals to gain a sense of what Forensics is about. Around March, participants are selectively chosen for the Varsity Team. Varsity students then compete in the Virginia High School League Tournaments against the best in the district and state. If students progress past regional competitions, they compete in Super Regionals, States, and even Nationals. Junior Avnee Raje, one of the team officers and an experienced competitor, has been part of Forensics & Debate since she entered Midlothian High as a freshman. “My brother was in Forensics in high school,and I thought it sounded fun,” she said. “I started off with Prose, and then ended up doing Humorous Duo for most of freshman year. Last year, I tried Dramatic Duo, but I’ve decided to go back to Prose this year because I really enjoy it.” Raje has gathered numerous awards since she joined the club and even joined the Varsity team when she was only a freshman.

Courtney Galligher joined the team when she was in the eighth grade and has participated in multiple competitions, such as Duo Improvisation, Dramatic Duo Interpretation, and Dramatic Interpretation. “Forensics is a lot of work,” she admitted, “but it’s so much fun. Practicing for competitions is more stressful than the actual competitions, and even though it sounds scary, it’s so much fun.”

Although Forensics requires much practice and courage, the participants have proven they are more than willing to step up to the task. The next stop for Forensics & Debate participants is James River High School on December 8th. To join Forensics & Debate, contact either Mr. Cheatham or Ms. Morris.