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January 27, 2010 > Forensics - Logan style

Forensics - Logan style

By Suzanne Ortt
Photos By William Mancebo

Diversity, deliberation, and drama - these three words aptly describe the 14h Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Forensic Tournament. The dynamic event at James Logan High School in Union City occurred the weekend of January 15 - 17. Students from 60 high schools all over California and even outside the state joined together on Dr. King's birthday holiday weekend to debate and orate. The enthusiasm and serious examination of issues by students from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities would have made Dr. King smile.

Tommie Lindsey joined the James Logan High School faculty in 1988 to begin the speech and debate program. Despite many challenges, he had the support of then superintendent, Guy Emanuele. From an enrollment of thirteen students, the program has grown to over two hundred. The tournament, started by Lindsey fourteen years ago and named in honor of Dr. King, concentrates on exposing students to the competition of forensics.

Forensics, defined as argumentative discourse, began in Greece around 450 B. C. Originally it was the study of courtroom speaking and public deliberation. Today, forensics includes public speaking, small group communication, argumentation, and oral interpretation.

The three-day schedule of forensics at Logan High School focused on two parts: individual events and debate. Individual events included challenges ranging from extemporaneous speaking, oratorical interpretation, and humorous interpretation among others. Debate events were of four types: Lincoln-Douglas, policy, public forum, and parliamentary.

This well-organized event began Friday afternoon and ended with the award ceremony Sunday evening. In between were a myriad of performances, all judged by panels of three or more. Teens took their assignments quite seriously, as did the judges. The ending ceremony was a highlight of the weekend.

Two of these judges were Rita Prichard, a speech and debate coach from Granite Bay High School in the Sacramento area and Shirley Keller, a coach from Monta Vista High School in Cupertino. Prichard considers this exhilarating but exhaustive tournament a classic California tradition, which she has attended for many years. Twenty-five of her students were in this year's tournament, both in individual events and debate. She feels the value of the competition includes the participants' learning different debate styles and meeting other students from various schools. Keller commented that Lindsey does a good job of organizing the weekend activities. Thirty-five students are on her school's team. These are Keller's positives: Logan is close, the cost is not so expensive, and it is a good competition.

Sophia Feng, a junior at Lynnbrook High School in Cupertino was here for the first time participating in oratory events. She found it a good learning experience, very organized and fun plus a supportive environment even when she did not do well. Forensic experience teaches self-presentation and more eloquence in speaking.

John Gonzalez, a senior and Jessica Saloman, a junior at Enochs High School in Modesto found the tournament a positive experience. John, in his second year of tournament said, "It was a good competition; one of the best on the West Coast." Jessica believes, "Debate is helpful to students."

One 10th grader, Vincent Chang stated, "Forensics is my niche at Logan." He is concerned forensics may be eliminated at Logan due to budget cuts. Chang, with one other debater, was helping at the information table in the judges' room.

Lunch was served to coaches and judges by willing Logan Forensics team members. Parents of Logan team members donated an impressive array of food and desserts.

The forensics team members were also remarkable. The appearances were significant; young men wore suits and ties and young women dressed in dark dresses with high heels. One coach reflected on their transformation, from t-shirts and flip-flops to the dressier clothing.

The yearly Logan Forensic competition is worth its stellar reputation. It is an incomparable accolade to Dr. King. Mark your calendar for the 2011 happening. It will be worth your time.

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