Gold standard in public speaking

CG-B forensics team learns life skills while earning medals at state

SIX CEDAR GROVE-BELGIUM HIGH SCHOOL entries won gold at the state forensics meet last month. They included students (from left) Jacy Zajac, Jaiden Schueller, Kara Pree, Anna Kiskunas, Kirsten Oszuscik, Haven Lanser, Allison Wieberdink and A.J. Schaefer. Missing from photo was Grace Voskuil. Photo by Mitch Maersch
Ozaukee Press Staff

Cedar Grove-Belgium High School student Kara Pree got to portray characters in a truck stop incident, Anna Kiskunas dramatically read one of her favorite children’s books, Jaiden Schueller, Jacy Zajac and Grace Voskuil presented persuasive arguments.

The quartet of Haven Lanser, Kirsten Oszuscik, Allison Wieberdink and A.J. Schaefer tried to not crack each other up during 10 minutes of play acting.

The topics and styles of these forensics performances ran the gamut, but they all had one thing in common: winning gold at the state meet in April.

As soon as everyone in their respective rooms presented, winners were announced. 

“It was very exciting. There were lots of hugs,” Wieberdink said.

“I think somebody started crying,” Oszuscik said.

As in sports, they competed against other schools, but unlike athletics, entrants aren’t split into divisions determined by school size.

Winning was one highlight — Schaefer said he likes the competitive aspect — but forensics season provided many other benefits.

Zajac researched, wrote and memorized an eight to 10-minute essay on the power of renewable resources such as solar, wind and geothermal energy. It was a more challenging topic than playacting last year.

“I like the challenge of it, and being able to express your views,” Zajac said.

Schueller did her own research in writing a four-minute speech on music therapy.

“I had to find very strong arguments why music therapy was beneficial because some people don’t believe in it,” she said.

Pree recreated a hilarious incident at a truck stop, using voice inflections and hand motions to switch from mom to dad to children to waitress to truckers.

“It was very stereotypical, the stuff I did,” she said.

She tried to capture the “kind of disgusting” feel of truckers, she said.

While Pree knew what characters she would portray, Kiskunas did not. She had to memorize four children’s books but didn’t know which one she’d recite until a judge chose a theme.

Kiskunas had to bring stories to life through her voice and arms and legs movements, but she couldn’t leave her chair.

At state, competitors got to choose their stories. Kiskunas picked “Corduroy.”

“My mom used to read it to me a lot,” she said.

One of the quartet’s biggest challenges was finding time to get together to practice. Then, they tried not to crack each other up.

“It’s hard not to laugh,” Schaefer said, “especially with the script already being funny.”

Even better than being entertaining, students learned how to talk in front of groups and lose any elements of stage fright.

“I used to be terrified but now I’m not,” Oszuscik said.

Coach Mary Beth Desens, who got help from Carol Schumacher, said she has seen the development in forensics participants.

“Many students improve on skills not only through the season, but throughout their years of participation. We have graduates that go on to college and careers that are well spoken and noticed for those abilities,” she said.

Besides skill development, Kiskunas said she enjoyed building team camaraderie on bus rides and at meets, another positive Desens referenced about the activity.

“One advantage of the program is that through the close work with one another, they develop strong bonds with one another,” Desens said. “There’s kind of a no man or participant left behind mentality. They watch out for one another wherever we go. They make sure the new kids know where to go and try to make them feel comfortable.”

Aside from the six entries winning gold, the Rockets earned 10 silver medals and four bronze. Twenty-eight students advanced to state.



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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