According to the Wisconsin High School Forensics Association, around 6,000 students participate in forensics annually. Approximately 4,500 students from more than 300 schools participate in the State Speech Festival at UW Madison.
All students participating in forensics are judged on their oral presentations. They are able to choose their performance from a variety of 16 categories.
But all categories have something in common — they need a judge.
UW Oshkosh offers a High School Forensic Judging Training session on Dec. 6 from 5 to 8 p.m. in room S117 of the Arts and Communication building. UWO communication studies professor, Dr. Kay Neal is in charge of certifying students.
“It is fun if you enjoy interacting with high school students and listening to some very awesome speeches, prose, poetry and play acting, to list a few of the categories,” Neal said.
After completing the three-hour High School Forensic Judging Training session, an individual can judge WHSFA events.
“Participants learn the rules for each category of competition, the educational philosophy of the Wisconsin High School Forensics Association and practice judging taped presentations of high school students,” Dr. Neal said. “The final activity is filling out a ballot after watching a presentation, which will be evaluated by the workshop instructor.”
Neal said that a judge typically earns between $75 to $100 for working three rounds of a forensic competition, which usually takes around four hours. The training session costs $25.
WHSFA hosts competitions for high school students, specifically sub districts, districts and the state forensic competition. The season runs from January to April.
According to the WHSFA website, students can choose their performance from 16 categories, including but not limited to:
— Demonstration speech: presenter is allowed up to 10 minutes to demonstrate a process using objects and physical activity.
— Impromptu speech: allows the individual five minutes to prepare and speak about the prompt assigned using personal examples.
— Group Interpretive Reading: two to five students read a literary script so that the audience imagines the action being described rather than watching students act it out.
— Play Acting: two to five actors perform a scene from dramatic literature using physical movement.
— Radio News Reporting: an individual cuts down 15-20 minutes of news stories to a five-minute radio news presentation.
In addition to the monetary compensation, Neal discussed a few benefits of participating in the High School Forensics Training session.
“[Judging forensics] is a great service activity for students going into the field of education,” Neal said. “It is also a strong résumé item to be able to list if you are interviewing for a teaching job at a school that has a forensic program. It may give the individual an advantage over another candidate that does not have this certification.”
Students interested in participating in High School Forensic Judging Training should register beforehand as no walk-ins are welcome. Prior to the training session, participants must complete a two-hour online course.