Highland Forensics Team Brings Home Medals In National and Regional Forensic Tournaments

FREEPORT — There is no debate about it, this has been a successful season for Highland’s Forensics team. Since October, five students have been part of a competitive debate team, bringing home their share of medals.

Four students, and their forensics director traveled to Costa Mesa, California to participate in the national forensics tournament on April 4-8. Those who attended were Gertrude Heimerdinger, Samuel Kempel, Moriah Ortega and Kevyn-Ann Sutter. Sutter took a bronze medal in Speech to Entertain and Kempel took a silver medal in Extemporaneous Speaking. Melissa Entzminger, director of the Forensics team at Highland, also traveled with the team.

On March 25-26, the Highland Forensics Team competed in the Region IV tournament at Elgin Community College where every member of the team brought home a medal. The following medals were awarded at regionals:

—    Gertrude Heimerdinger (of Pearl City) — Bronze in Communication Analysis

—    Moriah Ortega (of Freeport) — Silver in Impromptu

—    Bryant Smargiassi (of Pearl City)  — Bronze in Impromptu

—    Samuel Kempel (of Pearl City) — Silver in Extemporaneous Speaking

—    Kevyn-Ann Sutter (of Lena) — Silver in Persuasion; Bronze in Poetry and Silver in Program Oral Interpretation

The Forensics team traveled to Illinois Central College in Peoria for the Illinois Intercollegiate Forensics Association State Tournament on March 4-5. Kevyn-Sutter placed fourth in Poetry and second in Persuasion, while Samuel Kempel placed fifth in Extemporaneous speaking.

Melissa Entzminger said this has been a noteworthy season for the students. The speech season runs from October to April. The team attended the College of Lake County tournament in December in Grayslake, Illinois. The students took eight events at this tournament and brought home a medal in all events. Kempel competed in his first debate tournament at Kishwaukee College in December and came back with a gold medal.

“We spent the season looking at polishing events and to make the students feel comfortable,” Entzminger said. “They have become comfortable and poised, while at the same time creating a fun environment. I’ve had a great group of students. They are hard-working and support each other and really embody Highland’s educational experience.”

What makes the Forensics team unique at Highland is the fact that it is extra-curricular, and students are encouraged to use the knowledge that they’ve learned in class in developing their speeches.

Entzminger said, “Applying knowledge is the highest level of mastery in education.”

Ortega said she loves being part of Forensics to enhance her communications skills, which will serve her in any career path. The ability to communicate ideas effectively is a marketable skill that employees look for in the hiring process.

Sutter said, “Our season has gone extremely well, and we have gone above and beyond. This is my second season at Highland and we keep improving as a team. Success is always over the next hill, and the forensics community is so welcoming and so supportive. We have similar interests and it’s what binds us closer. I don’t focus on winning, but the network I create helps me, and that is what is incredible.”

As director of the Forensics team, Entzminger helps guide the students through their peer coaching, offering them tips for improvement, or how to polish for an upcoming event. With their competitions, the team and the camaraderie between debate partners is evident and a key component to their success.

Entzminger said she admits that she gets nervous for her students, wanting them to do their best, but at the end of the day, her goal is for them to be happy about their performance. She sees first-hand how forensics competition helps students with self-discovery and growth.

For more information about the Forensics team at Highland, contact Melissa Entzminger at melissa.entzminger@highland.edu or 815.599.3550

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