EHS rebuilding forensics program
The main problem holding back the forensics program at Eudora High School has nothing to do with talent of the students or how hard they work to prepare for the speech and acting events in which they take part.
The problem is participation. With only 15 students and nine total events, the program is unable to field entries into all of the events.
There are five speech events, consisting of extemporaneous speaking, informative speaking, original oration, prose interpretation and poetry interpretation; and four acting events consisting of humorous solo, dramatic solo, duet acting, improvise duet acting.
Much like a wrestling team that cannot win a team title because it doesn't have enough team members to compete in each weight class, the program is at a disadvantage before events even start.
"We don't have anyone in the speech events. League (competitions) have two (students) in each event, so we're going to be hurt the minute we step off the bus," Eudora High School English teacher and forensics coach Linda Riedel said.
Before each event, students pick new material on which they'll work. The only event in which students are not allowed to use material is improvised duet acting.
The program is an excellent way for students to bolster their communication skills, Riedel said.
"You have to learn to communicate," she said. "When you get a job in the future, you have to be able to interview properly and explain things. Basically, they're learning to present themselves in front of people, and that to me is the goal."
Riedel, who is in her first year of teaching at EHS, is in her 24th year of teaching forensics.
"Linda got the English position we had open and came with a lot of experience in forensics - state championships and that kind of stuff," Eudora High School Activities Director Dave Durkin said. "That's where we want to go. If we're going to have a program for our kids, we want it to be the best it can be and give them every opportunity to succeed."
The first step in getting the program to where they want it to be is to begin a speech and forensics class.
"We're building from scratch, basically, and it's kind of difficult because most of them have never been exposed to forensics and there is not a class here to support it at the moment," Riedel said.
The administration at the high school has decided to offer a speech and forensics class next year, and Riedel said that will help the forensics team improve its numbers.
"We'll double our participation," Riedel said. "It's going to make a huge difference.
Until then, Riedel finds time to practice with each student at staggered times, in some cases working around sports practices and games.
"They (students) are kind of in their own little world right now trying to get better at what they do," she said. "When we go to a tournament now, we watch other schools. We'll watch the finals of poetry or improvised duet acting so they can see what is really good. So, we're doing a lot of exploration right now."
But they're doing something right, as the improvised duet acting team of Kyle Swanson and Hawley Montgomery have qualified to compete in State League Championships May 3 in Topeka.
"That's extremely difficult to do," Riedel said. "They beat out 28 other teams. That helped our team to get noticed and build some credibility."