Entire LN forensics team makes it to MIFA state finals


Credit: Cheryl Bukant-Wesselhoff

LN senior Emerson Wesselhoff performing her forensic’s piece at home, during regional finals.

Lily Stickley, Feature Editor

This is the first time in Loy Norrix history that the entire forensics team advanced on to the MIFA (Michigan Interscholastic Forensic Association) state finals. The event was held on April 30 – May 1, virtually, with students from all over the state. 

Senior Emerson Wesselhoff won first place in the state for her event, oratory. Junior Sagan Barber got fourth place in her event, oratory, as well. 

Forensics is a type of public speaking.  “So in forensics, what we do is there are two schools of thought,” coach Paige Carrow continued. “There is public address, which are your more informative speech–oratory, broadcasting where the intent is to educate your audience. Those are mostly original writings that students read themselves.. 

The other school of thought is DI, which stands for dramatic interpretation. [The] dramatic interpretation side of it is more of the purpose to entertain, right? So we’ve had storytellers, poets and actors that recreate scenes or put their own interpretation on literature.”

Each student has their own category of event, which is often different from one another, meaning no one typically does their piece on the same topic as another person. Of the events that are available for the students to choose from, there are many choices. One of the types are group events. Those events are called duos or multiples. The group of people compete together and perform a piece of their choosing. LN senior Makenzie Sackett competed in multiples this year.  In a multiple event, the group will take a movie/play/musical and take apart the plot, to make it into a 15 minute production. 

“I’m in multiple this year, so I’ve been collaborating with three other teammates. We’re doing the cult classic rom-com ‘Clueless.’ I’m playing Tai, Cher is played by Ellen Terzino, Yacine Lo as Dionne and Braeden Davis as our four male characters.” 

This team’s multiple placed fourth at states this year.

Wesselhoff participated in an event called oratory. In oratory, the person makes a persuasive piece, about eight minutes long, of their choosing.

“Getting first place and becoming state champion was incredible. It meant a lot to get that award/recognition, but for me, the true value of it came from being recognized for doing something I absolutely love during such a difficult time,” said Wesselhoff. “I gave my whole heart to my speech this season, and to be recognized for that love means everything. To end my forensics career with my favorite speech and my favorite group of people was the true honor – becoming state champion was just icing on the cake.”

Because of COVID, competitions and general practice had to be different. 

“It’s been a struggle, right. But it’s been really cool to see how creative these kids have become. So we have been doing online meets as a team: we do them once a week, we meet and then individually [meet],” said Carrow. 

With the pandemic, just like everything else the forensics tournaments had to look different. The biggest difference being that they were fully online. 

“This season has been very different since all of our rounds have been online,” said Sackett. We’re using a new platform called Jitsi Meet on Tabroom. Usually, we’d be traveling around to different schools and competing there, but we’ve been doing it from inside of Loy Norrix and last week from the comfort of our own homes. 

I prefer the way the other seasons have worked because it allowed for more bonds between schools. I’ve made friends from Grand Rapids and other places I never would’ve met otherwise. I also miss cheering on your friends, and I’m sad the only time I would’ve been able to go on stage for awards was the year we were virtual.”

While some students did pretty well with the tournaments being online, others struggled with it. 

Wesselhoff said, “I, and so many others, rely on eye contact and being in the same room as my judges to make a connection with them. Speaking to a computer screen in an empty room makes that process so much harder.”