It was like an audition for “Saturday Night Live” inside Blue Springs High School’s front office Wednesday afternoon. BSHS 2014 graduates and National Speech & Debate Tournament winners demonstrated a bit of their performance selections on the spot that earned them second place at the tournament last month.
Their spontaneous transformations exhibited lively dance, detailed characterization and numerous gestures, suggested why they earned such high rankings in the Duo and Humorous Interpretation events.
Blue Springs High School earned a “School of Excellence” award for being one of the top 20 high schools at the National Speech & Debate Tournament held in Overland Park, Kansas, from June 17-20. The school’s debate and forensics team earned many points awarded by judges in various live performance events, such as oratory, poetry and, of course, debate that allowed it to be ranked high overall. BSHS speech and debate coach/instructor Jacquelyn Young said nearly 5,000 students and more than 1,000 schools from across the country, including U.S. territory Guam, competed at the tournament last month. Young said this is the second time in her 20 years at BSHS that her team received the “Excellence” award.
In addition to the team accolade, individual students did well. Lyric Davis and Sam Moore placed second overall in the Duo Interpretation event, which involves a pair of performers acting out a scene from a produced play, movie or published piece of work. Their selection was a piece from the play by Jeff Talbott entitled, “The Submission,” a story about race and gender. Blake Knapp placed second in Humorous Interpretation for “Milk, Milk, Lemonade,” a play by Josh Conkel. Plus he won the “Bama Bowl,” a trophy presented to the student who is, in the opinion of the judges, winner of the final round in the HI event.
Davis and Moore said they had to perform their selection a total 13 times throughout the three-day tournament. All three May graduates said they have been practicing their selections all through the past school year.
Young said that although her performers may appear to be immersed in character during a event, the idea behind one in a speech and debate competition is to be “natural” as possible; that way students can learn to be effective communicators in the real world.
“You learn communication and memorization,” said Davis on high school forensics. “It has a business mentality to it, where you juggle your time, research and effort.”
“There are also some sociological and psychological aspects to a (forensics) performance, too,” said Moore. He said audience members change their perception and reaction based on how performers present themselves. Young also said that forensics is a competitive activity and has the longest season, starting in October and ending the following June each school year.
Davis, Knapp and Moore said they all received full-ride scholarships through their involvement in forensics all four years in high school and will be attending Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky this fall; a school that is known for speech and debate.
“This was my first class that made the first break,” said Young, meaning all participating BSHS forensics members advanced into later rounds. “I’m so proud of them.”