"What is Forensics?" We are not talking about science or crime lab stuff like you see on CSI— this kind of forensics has to do with public speaking, oration and debate. Students from nine KPBSD schools traveled to Tustumena Elementary on Saturday, February 25, 2017, to recite poetry and prose, present interpretative readings, or deliver story telling in front of an audience of judges and parents. This was not a spur of the moment decision, but the culmination of weeks or months of preparation and practice by fourth through sixth grade students and elementary staff all across our district.
Why do we take time out of our busy teaching schedule to work on forensics? The positive benefits of public speaking have been well documented. Besides the fact that forensics can be fun, it can also increase student self-esteem, promote leadership skills, increase communication skills, provide an outlet for creative expression, and increase student understanding and connection to literature. Over 95% of students that participate on high school speech and debate teams go on to a college education. Many colleges and universities also give scholarships to students who participate and do well in this extracurricular activity because employers are often seeking workers with good communication skills. Of all of these excellent reasons for students to practice and learn forensic skills, one of the most important reasons might be that these skills can help them throughout the rest of their lives; at work, at home, and in the community
The elementary school forensics competition process starts with 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students choosing a piece of literature to present. These pieces must be between one to five minutes long and can be performed by a single student or by a group of two or more together. After choosing whether to present a poem, prose, a short story or reader's theater, the students must research the author's intent and try to convey that meaning with their tone of voice, inflection and movements. Shorter pieces must be memorized, which builds strong recall skills. After working on their pieces, students compete in a class-wide competition. Students with high enough scores move on to compete at a school level competition. These students are judged by three judges and only the best go on to compete at the annual district-wide competition. At this competition, students once again present their pieces and are judged against a rubric designed for their age group and category. First, second, and third place ribbons are awarded to the top performers in each category. This is an opportunity for students to receive recognition for their hard work and dedication. It is truly remarkable to watch the level of poise and sophistication of these top performers.
This 2017 district-wide forensics competition is over, but you shouldn't feel left out. Next year's competition is just around the corner, it will be held in late February or early March, 2018, at Tustumena Elementary. Remember, it is never too early to start looking for a good piece of literature to practice and present! And, it's a wonderful spectator event for parents, friends, and the community.
Story contributed by JoEllen Fowler and Lisa Gossett
Congratulations to students from the nine competing schools! First place winners:
- Humorous Poetry, Grade 4: Madelyn Ross, K-Beach Elementary
- Humorous Poetry, Grade 5: Nolan Boehme, Nikiski North Star Elementary & Hannah Leaders, Soldotna Montessori Charter School
- Humorous Poetry, Grade 6: Liam Harris, Redoubt Elementary
- Humorous Prose, Grade 4: Alexis Wells, Redoubt Elementary
- Humorous Prose, Grade 5: Cody Thompson, Redoubt Elementary
- Humorous Prose, Grade 6: Aleysa Strait, Aurora Borealis Charter School
- Interpretive Reading, Grade 4: Kaydence Monti, K-Beach Elementary
- Interpretive Reading, Grade 5: Melanie Woodard, Seward Elementary
- Interpretive Reading, Grade 6: Kelsie Kenner, Redoubt Elementary
- Interpretive Reading, Multi/Grade 4: Abigail Doepken & Bethany Doepken, Seward Elementary
- Interpretive Reading, Multi/Grade 5: Christopher Smith & Kael Aamodt, Sterling Elementary
- Interpretive Reading, Multi/Grade 6: Hannah Stonorov, Josh Latham, Faith Latham & Kavindra Johnson, McNeil Canyon Elementary
- Non-Humorous Poetry, Grade 4: Jack Linquist, Moose Pass School
- Non-Humorous Poetry, Grade 5: Casey Bryden, Moose Pass School
- Non-Humorous Poetry, Grade 6: Selena Payment, Soldotna Montessori Charter School
- Non-Humorous Prose, Grade 4: Brian Bliss, Tustumena Elementary
- Non-Humorous Prose, Grade 5: James Bush, Tustumena Elementary
- Non-Humorous Prose, Grade 6: Daisy Rogers, Soldotna Montessori Charter School
- Poetry, Multiple/Grade 4: Sam Klein & James Innes, Aurora Borealis Charter School; Gage Bradford & Hunter Forshee-Kutz, Seward Elementary; and Alexandra Casey & Sofia Loboy, McNeil Canyon Elementary
- Poetry, Multiple/Grade 5: Jaxon Brophy & Koen Pace, Aurora Borealis Charter School
- Poetry, Multiple/Grade 6: Zoe Cravens & Desiree Bunts, Sterling Elementary
- Prose, Multiple/Grade 5: Leora McCaughey & Maggie Grenier, Nikiski North Star Elementary
- Prose, Multiple/Grade 6: Brook Fischer & Josie Sheridan, Tustumena Elementary; and Jordynne Audette & JulieAnn Nye, Aurora Borealis Charter School
- Story Telling, Grade 4: Delaney Smith, K-Beach Elementary
- Story Telling, Grade 5: Katelyn Derleth, Redoubt Elementary
- Story Telling, Grade 6: Blake Lewis, Redoubt Elementary
Thank you to all the students in KPBSD schools who competed, the many volunteers, and Tustumena Elementary School for hosting the event!