Fielding a team for this year’s Robert S. Sergeant Independent Schools Forensics League Tournament Upper Division wasn’t easy, but it was worth the practice and dedication. The annual competition with students from Cape Henry Collegiate, Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, Virginia Beach Friends School, The Williams School and Norfolk Collegiate is held in the winter for students in Grades 7-8 and in the spring for students in Grades 4-6.
As like with many things, COVID-19 changed the look and feel of the competition; however, seven students rose to the challenge, including Austin Hrisko '25 and Evan Wallach '25 who took home wins– Austin taking third place in Boys Storytelling and Evan taking third place in Boys Prose.
Austin performed storytelling, which had to be memorized. He read “I am Hermes! Mischief-Making Messenger of the Gods” by Mordicai Gerstein.
Evan performed prose, where he read “Cracking the Dress-Code” from James Patterson’s “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life.”
“It was more difficult to build a full team this year as the majority of practicing had to be done at home instead of with me at school; however, this year’s participants really rose to the occasion and worked hard on their own,” said Forensics Adviser Jill Archer.
Additionally, the competition is traditionally an in-person event during which students can perform in front of an audience and their competitors; however, this year participants had to record and submit their pieces for the judges.
“Performing without an audience added a different element, as often the audience provides motivation to perform well, as well as seeing your competitors perform, and this year it was recorded, so they didn’t have these elements. The team really impressed me with their personal work ethic. I am super proud of their efforts.”
For Austin, the win was sweet. Not only did he place, but it was also his first time competing.
“I was extremely excited,” he said. “I picked this piece because it had been published recently, and I thought the audience may not have seen it before. Additionally, I also thought it was an amusing version of a Greek myth, and it just seemed to suit my personality.”
It was also Evan’s first time competing.
“I think making the competition virtual made it more competitive...your [submission] will best represent your knowing of the piece,” said Evan of the competition
“This was a really fun experience and if you are interested in either telling a story or writing and reading a paper about something that you are passionate about, I encourage you to try it,” said Austin.