Life skills gained by Pratt High School forensics team members include communication, research, listening, writing and organization.
The Pratt High School forensics and debate department was recently named a member of the “100 Club,” a sought after award in the forensics and debate world for achievements experienced during the 2019 season this past spring.
The National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) selects the schools who have made top points for the 100 Club. The Pratt High chapter, which consists of all teachers and students involved in the NSDA at Pratt High School, has earned “strength points,” which help determine the placing of the school in the region. If they, as a chapter, together have earned 100 or more strength points, they are named to be part of the 100 Club for the NSDA.
“It’s just an honor,” head forensics coach Rose Beilman said. “It’s because of the kids.”
Every student and teacher can earn points through one of four ways. The first and second ways are to participate in debate and/or forensics. To earn points, they get a certain number per round and per score at forensics and debate tournaments. The third way is service or coaching to younger students, and the final way is to perform in public, not for debate or forensic performances.
There are anywhere from 35 to 55 students in forensics, and 7 to 15 in debate on any given year at Pratt High.
No team can win the award if they have won in the last five years, and the last time Pratt has won the award was in 2014, making Pratt one of the leading programs in the district.
“Pratt High won the honor five years ago,” Beilman said. “There are about 12 to 15 schools in our district. We are consistently up there because we earn a lot of points.”
According to the NSDA, this is a very prestigious award.
“This milestone is remarkable because it demonstrates outstanding commitment to teaching students essential life skills - including communication, research, listening, writing, and organization,” said J. Scott Wunn, the NSDA Executive Director in a letter to Beilman.
Beilman said she sees many advantages for students who are involved with NSDA.
“They just become much more confident and sure of themselves,” Beilman explained. “They are able to handle themselves in public very well.”
She believes students learn many valuable skills when they are involved in forensics.
“They also get to the point where they’re able to structure a message toward a particular audience, and it gives them a great deal of credibility and respect when they’re out in public.”
She says choosing and cutting the pieces for performance is one of the challenges of forensics, because students don’t always know where to look.
“That’s a lot of fun,” Beilman said, referring to helping students pick out their pieces. She loves to help students find what they are good at and help them improve their weaknesses so they can have a positive learning experience.
Like many high school sports, forensics competitors prepare year-round for forensics season.
“We worked last summer on students trying to come up with material that they liked,” Beilman said.
Beilman is excited to get started with the forensics competitions beginning in January.
“I have a really strong team going into this year, and what I really would like to do is see the level of performance at a stronger level,” Beilman said.