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Pratt seniors, state forensics qualifiers reminisce

Kahrie Stegman

In a normal school year, May 1-2, would have been the weekend of state forensics competitions, but Pratt High School seniors in forensics were devastated when their chance for a grand finale season would not be allowed because of coronavirus cancellation. Seniors Donovan McAbee, Abigail Green, Kahrie Stegman, Amee Hidalgo, Brett Huslig, Aiden Falkinburg and Abby Zang had high hopes for their senior showcase, but have many good memories to look back on, in spite of the turn of events.

Donovan McAbee has been in forensics for four years.

“I feel that forensics has been an experience that I will remember for a long time,” McAbee said.

McAbee’s favorite part of forensics was the relationships he built.

“Colby (Barradas) is someone that I believe is of a different breed. He has the drive to do better than anyone else I know. Also he is a hoot to be around, like seriously the funniest person I know. I'm gonna miss him,” McAbee said.

An unexpected friendship also came out of forensics for McAbee.

“I wouldn't have ever gotten to know Kylee (Hopkins) without forensics, and it makes me happy to know that I did have that chance to get to know her,” McAbee said. “She has been a wonderful IDA (Improvised Duet Acting) partner and friend. Probably the funniest thing with me and Kylee is that we are completely different people. Even though we would disagree and she wouldn't laugh at my dumb jokes, we worked like a well-oiled machine. I wouldn't trade my IDA partner for the world. I can't wait to see her thrive in the future.”

McAbee was in the Serious Solo, IDA, Impromptu, and Duet events.

“I have become more flexible as a speaker and an actor,” McAbee said. “I'm sad that my final season ended so abruptly, but I know that Ms. Beilman will continue to have a thriving team for the future.”

McAbee encourages his fellow seniors.

“I understand that this is tough, but I know that we will come out of this tougher than any other,” McAbee said.

McAbee’s State qualifications include 1 1st place and 1 2nd place medal in Duet with Colby Barradas, 2 2nd place medals in Impromptu Speaking, 1 1st place medal in Improvised Duet Acting with Kylee Hopkins and1 4th place medal in Improvised Duet Acting with Kylee Hopkins for State Festival.

This year was Abigail Green’s first year in forensics and at Pratt High.

“My favorite memories were when we were at tournaments and just how fun everyone has together,” Green said. “It was also so much fun to cheer on the others on the team and see how everyone did. Forensics this year has really helped me come out of my shell and become more confident in being myself around other people.”

Green’s qualifications for State were 1 2nd place medal in Poetry, 2 additional Poetry medals for State Festival, and 1 1st place medal at a Novice Meet for Festival in Serious Solo.

Kahrie Stegman was in her fourth year of forensics.

“I have definitely grown a lot since my freshman year, both in speeches and acting,” Stegman said. “I have done so many speeches now that I feel like any speech I have the opportunity to give in the future will be enjoyable for me, and I've learned how to make it captivating for my audience as well.”

Stegman has learned how to get out of her comfort zone from forensics.

“One thing about acting and speeches for me is that I have always absolutely hated performing in front of small crowds,” Stegman said. “Something about the intimacy of it makes me so uncomfortable. In forensics, not only did I have to perform in front of one or two people for the majority of the performances, but was also stuck in a closet for some performances. This forced me to get out of my comfort zone and learn how to manage my nerves when facing small crowds.”

Stegman’s accomplishments from this season include 1 1st place in Impromptu Speaking, and receiving the Academic All-American award for having a 3.7 GPA, a 27 ACT or higher, and for demonstrating outstanding character and leadership.

Amee Hidalgo has also been in forensics for four years.

“Forensics has been my favorite thing for the past four years,” Hidalgo said. “It’s really helped me come out of my shell and become who I am today. Every year all the people who participated in forensics became a part of my family and I enjoyed that so much.”

Hidalgo received 1 1st place medal in Oration and 1 3rd place medal in Oration for Festival this season.

Senior Aiden Falkinburg qualified for State Championships with his 1st Place Medal in Poetry.

Underclassman state qualifiers include Colby Barradas, Rafe Donnenwerth, Kylee Hopkins, Ruby Howell, Colby Gordon, Hogan Thompson, Michael Dishman, Madeline Drake, Walker Green, Lexi Voepel, Kierra Messick, Dawson Malone, Alyssa Green, and Bella Barker, and Darrian Cox.

Junior Colby Barradas and others were planning on competing at the National Forensics Qualifier to see if he would be able to compete on the national level, but that meet was canceled due to COVID-19.

This year, NSDA (National Speech and Debate Association) will be hosting a virtual Nationals tournament. Head Forensics Coach Rose Beilman nominated Barradas to compete at the tournament, and he was accepted and will be competing at the national level this season over video.