BV Forensics team places sixth in state, different personalities combine for team’s success

Sara Naatz, Multimedia Editor

The debater. Known to be persuasive, argumentative and opinionated.

The actor. Aims toward pleasing an audience and being a true performer. 

These two personality types come together to make up the Blue Valley Forensics team, which placed 6th in the state tournament with five students placing in six categories.

Seniors Tyler Kalmus, Usama Sheikh and Samy Mousa along with juniors Samantha Nichols and Josh Montague all placed. Kalmus placed in two categories. 

Forensics is competitive speaking and acting, with many very different events to choose from under three main categories: poetry and prose, speeches and interpretations. 

Speeches are expository and persuasive speaking, a category the debaters are often involved in. 

Interpretations focus more on memorized acting, and poetry and prose focus on the use of voices when reading books and poems. 

And though Forensics is very focused on individual effort, Forensics teacher Chris Riffer believes the team is just as important.   

“The most difficult thing for me is getting people to realize its team aspect,” he said. “It has a lot of individual orientation so it’s hard to feel part of a team. I try to get people to see the interconnectedness.” 

Sophomore Molly Chesis, who classifies herself as a performer more than a speaker, said her Forensics teammates are very supportive. 

“Among the people that really work hard, there’s a lot of motivation,” Chesis said. “People really want to help you and want you to do well.”

Riffer said one of his favorite aspects of Forensics is the very different personalities of the students.

“What’s really neat is those two kinds of students have far apart personalities and they really come together as a team,” he said. 

Chesis said people involved in Forensics are a very rowdy group of kids. 

“Forensics students are the most insane, wildest people who are just really different,” she said. “All these people have no inhibitions and just want to have fun and really want to be there.”

Riffer also said anyone who is outspoken and willing to please an audience has a place in Forensics.

“We have a lot of fun,” he said. “Everybody has a strong personalities and they get to show them off.”

During class, students are doing one of three things. They may be performing, watching and evaluating the performances of others or working on their own speeches.

“I work with kids on performances and go through it step-by-step,” Riffer said. 

Chesis said students practice in different ways depending on their event.

“Humorous interpretation, for example, I usually try to memorize out loud with all the movements involved,” she said. “With dramatic interpretation, I’m thinking more about my inner feelings when I read. But all if it’s a lot of repeating.”

Riffer believes that Forensics provides beneficial experiences for all students. For example, one kind of speech largely resembles an Advanced Placement Document Based Question in that students have a certain amount of time to analyze documents and write a speech to be judged. 

“There’s so many skills that translate into other activities,” Riffer said. “It makes you more assertive in anything you do.”

Chesis said Forensics also promotes confidence. She believes it is very rewarding. 

“I signed up for the class because you can do what you want and be what you want,” she said. “It’s a really fun and expressive sort of art. It’s what you take it to be and what you express it to be.”