Figures of speech — the first Fearless Forensic Festival
- Published: February 7, 2019
Halls, rooms, chairs, nooks and crannies were filled to capacity at both the high school and grade school this last Saturday, Jan. 26, as Yellow Springs hosted its first ever speech and debate tournament, the Fearless Forensic Festival. Two-hundred-and-fourteen students from 14 schools participated, and Yellow Springs fielded its two-year-old team of 16 middle- and high-school students. The event was judged by over 80 judges — several of them local — and was made tenable by at least 30 volunteers.
Brian Housh, coach of the newly minted Yellow Springs team, wrote in an email that “it was a huge lift for Yellow Springs” to host, as well as compete in the event. “We added middle school as well as going from three students to 16 competing this year.” Eight students placed in their respective competitions. “It was the first speech and debate tournament for half of these students,” he said.
Participants in the tournament presented in five categories: Public Speaking, Debate, Extemporaneous Speaking, Public Address and Dramatic Interpretation, with subcategories as diverse as Humorous Interpretation, Original Oratory and Public Forum Debate.
Of the formats, Housh said that all of the events have their challenges. “The Lincoln-Douglas Debate is probably the most competitive. However, Extemporaneous Speaking is quite intense,” Housh said, requiring the speaker to prepare, memorize and deliver a seven-minute speech based on a question selected randomly. The speaker must also research during that prep time; top performers typically cite six or more sources. “What an incredible skill to develop,” Housh said.
The top five teams in the tournament were from Dublin Jerome coming in at fifth, Beavercreek at fourth, Centerville at third, and Oakwood second, with Mason in the top spot. The Yellow Springs team handed out 114 medals, as well as four plush bulldogs — one to each of the three top teams, and one to volunteer Cindy Sieck “for being the key to making our first tournament a success,” Housh said.
Food for the hungry orators and support staff came in the form of 14 crock pots of warm soup and several fresh fruit trays provided by parents and community members, as well as donations of 50 Ha Ha pizzas, 300 cups of Young’s ice cream, and four large coffee carafes to keep the judges sharp, according to Housh. “We couldn’t have pulled it off without all the support and positive energy. I have really enjoyed working with our local youth, and they continue to do our community proud.” he said.