What is competition like?
Forensics is competitive speech and debate. The word forensics means to study carefully. The yearlong forensics "season" culminates in a state final and a national tournament for those who qualify. Forensics is the oldest academic competitive activity at the high school level and one of only two competitive academic teams at GBHS.
Forensic contests in speech and debate are held throughout the school year, all day, on Saturdays. Some team members will be invited to attend tournaments over an entire weekend, such as Friday through Sunday. These invitational tournaments are hosted by University of the Pacific, Santa Clara, Stanford and U.C. Berkeley and are accessible by coach invitation only.
All students start at the novice or junior varsity level and work their way up to varsity level competition. The speeches are delivered in classrooms at different high schools in our league. Typically, six students are in each room (each from a different school), with a judge and timer. Presentation in front of large groups rarely, if ever, occurs.
At tournaments students meet and compete against the brightest, most articulate students from other schools from throughout the region, state and nation. It is an excellent training ground for the rigors of university work where competition for grades rather than trophies is the rule.
There are three rounds of individual events and three rounds of debate competition offered during each league tournament. Every competitor is guaranteed two rounds of competition, in which they deliver the same speech against different competitors. Occasionally, you may have to compete against someone from our school. Each student will compete, using a code number. Identifying your school affiliation is forbidden. The top 6-12 students in each event go on to a third round called a "power round". These students win the medals and trophies and are recognized at an awards ceremony that follows the final round. Win or lose, all students stay for awards.
Forensic students may choose from eleven individual competitive events and five kinds of debate. Each student will select those events in which he/she feels the most comfortable utilizing personal skills to the maximum. Your coach will have suggestions as your skills emerge.
Double entries are available when a varsity level event has less than two panels. We are guaranteed two of these entries, but may have additional double entries on a first-come, first-served basis, as rooms allow. This means that varsity competitors may have two individual entries and a debate for each tournament.
There is no cost for league tournament entry and transportation. If you fail to show up on a Saturday you have committed to, you will reimburse the non-refundable league fees plus the league's $25 penalty. You will have to pay part of the entry and lodging for invitationals, which normally will cost you $100-$150.
The forensic class time is spent learning the events and preparing for tournament competition. Individualized instruction is emphasized in forensics since each student is preparing different events. Using the comments you receive from your judge(s), you may revise your speech or scrap it. You may change events. Your coach may elect to begin your competition at varsity level. You are expected to perform for the class and your practice group.