Nine forensics students proceed to NSDA nationals

“You can do anything in a short amount of time. Some have been there all four years, and I’ve only been here roughly a year and a half, so that’s the most important thing. You really can do it, you can do anything.” -Britt’Ne Caldwell, senior

Samantha Johnson

Talking to the walls and organizing their briefs, BSHS debate and forensics students will take on new challenges with the arrival of the MSHSAA state and NSDA national tournaments this spring. Forensics teacher Jacquelyn Young was proud to hear that she and debate teacher Adam Higgins are taking a large number of students to nationals showcase their talents. She accredited their success to their individual effort as well as team standards.

“I have a group of nine students (going to nationals), and that’s the most I’ve ever taken myself. It’s a very strong group, and I expect them to do well,” Young said.

Young has kept her teaching methods consistent to ensure that her students would hold themselves accountable for their preparation for each competition.

“I think that when (my standards) start to fluctuate, the students don’t know what to expect. I can’t evaluate you on how well you do at a tournament, but I can evaluate you how how well you prepare,” Young said.

Senior and national qualifier Britt’Ne Caldwell admitted that it can be hard to keep her character “fresh” throughout the lengthy competitive season.

“What’s challenging is keeping it consistent. I’ve been the same character so many times that it gets boring because we practice the same piece all the time. Being consistent is the hardest thing,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell cites having a partner as added incentive.  Being accountable to someone else keeps her pushing herself to excel.

“I think having a partner keeps me motivated. I don’t think I would be doing nearly as well by myself,” she added.

MSHSAA recognized seniors Billy Mears and Chase Geisler were on at the state-level.

“When Chase and I qualified to state, we had just gotten out of NSDA districts and hadn’t qualified to nationals because we had to face two very hard teams early on, so we went into MSHSAA a little defeated. But then, we were undefeated in prelims and we won quarter-finals against the NSDA champions, so that was great confidence boost,” Mears said.

Young kept her students motivated by telling them to treat each performance like their last and giving them multiple opportunities to compete locally before their district competitions.

“I remind them of the end goal and to take it a day at a time. Especially at bigger tournaments, you can’t go in thinking you’re going to qualify. You have to take it a round at a time. They are, as far as varsity, used to going to tournaments and how those roll. They know how to prepare for that tournament. I try to challenge them by offering a competition for them to go compete with people beyond the people they see every weekend,” Young said.

Young stressed how inclement weather greatly impacted both the debate and forensics teams at the beginning of the spring semester.

“Not getting a chance to compete locally in January could have hurt us. That was my biggest concern, and that why we went places (to compete) that we have never been before. We went to Millard West to compete, and they did really well up there,” Young said. “To compete nationally, you have got to compete locally because that’s the journey. I wanted them to be prepared to compete nationally because you don’t go to just waste money,” she added.

As a fairly new member to the team, Caldwell watched herself mold into an excellent forensicator over just a year and a half.

“You can do anything in a short amount of time. Some have been there all four years, and I’ve only been here roughly a year and a half, so that’s the most important thing. You really can do it, you can do anything,” Caldwell said.

With fours years of debate experience, Mears reflected on how debate has broadened his opinions on politics and environmental issues but also improved his social skills.

“It has given me a lot of communication skills that I definitely didn’t used to have. It has taught me how to have opinions. I have opinions of my own now, like I have totally different opinions than both of my parents. I just have a really wide range of knowledge because we do a different topic every single month, and I’ve done that every single month since my freshman year,” Mears said.

Even though he will leave debate behind after graduation, Mears acknowledges how important communication will be in his line of work and social life.

“I’m going to college for computer science, but I think it will be very useful outside of my career. It’s very useful in just everyday life, like being able to sit down and do interviews, portray myself in an intellectual manner is super important if you want to be taken seriously,” Mears said.

Caldwell agreed that face-to-face communication and public speaking has become easier for her since her start in forensics.

“Speaking in front people is so much easier than it has ever been. I speak in front of random people all the time. I’m really good at talking to people I know, but it’s hard to speak to strangers because I stumble over my words a lot, but forensics has really changed my opinions on public speaking,” Caldwell said.

Staff and students are looking forward to seeing the results of Caldwell and her peers at beginning of this summer in Dallas, Texas for NSDA nationals.