The Father Gabriel Richard Forensics Team had a very successful season in 2018 but forensics is much more than just the final results of a competition. It’s a program that helps prepare students for the future and while they not only learn and grow from the experience, they also make a difference in the present.
And like in many other things, Forensics is what you put into it.
“Forensics provides students with a chance to find their voice and use it to advocate for change in a world that so often dismisses students because of their youth or inexperience,” says Elise Boratenski, the head coach of FGR Forensics Team. “Every Forensics piece is personal for my students on some level, no matter what category they compete in. They are labors of love in which students get to reflect on a theme or current issue that matters to them and that they want to share with others.”
Forensics gives students the tools to become accomplished public speakers.
“Forensics provides students with the abilities to research, memorize, and deliver a speech with poise, appropriate emotion, diction and a host of other skills that will serve them in any walk of life,” said Boratenski, who is an English teacher at FGR. “Quite aside from acquiring transferable skills with no ‘expiration date,’ our Forensics students have used their experience to help them apply for jobs and colleges, even earning scholarships.”
The FGR Forensics Team also is a place for students to find a home and a community of like-minded individuals at the school. The students are passionate, creative, determined, competitive and always eager to learn. They get the chance to meet students both at FGR and in the wider Forensics Community who share their interests and passion.
The FGR team is especially unique because of the amount of peer-to-peer mentoring that occurs.
“As a small team, we rely heavily on our experienced ‘vets’ to mentor newer team members throughout the year,” said Boratenski. “Oftentimes, that means that our experienced team members are mentoring their competition. Yet, this does not breed resentment or anger, but rather inspires all of our students to become better, and creates self-giving leaders out of our mentors.
“At every competition I’ve been at I’ve witnessed strangers complimenting one another on their pieces after rounds, students who have been competing against one another for years noting how their friends have improved, and older ‘vets’ offering encouragement to new faces.”
Conversely, Forensics is also a sport that inspires independence and self-regulation in students. At FGR, they do not choose pieces for their students, nor can they memorize or block their pieces for them.
“As coaches we make suggestions, help brainstorm ideas, watch pieces and offer critiques,” said Boratenski. “However, the vast majority of work has to come from the students. We have deadlines we ask our team members to meet, but the goal setting for the season and the meeting of the deadlines is up to the students.”
The FGR team did more than meet deadlines this past season. The Fighting Irish had 10 entries (12 total students) qualify for states and six entries (eight students) competed in the semifinal rounds and three entries (four students) competed in the finals. FGR students who qualified for the finals placed sixth, third and first in their respective categories.
Colleen Hammond won her third straight state title in her category.
The FGR team also placed sixth in their division.
Father Gabriel Richard has had a Forensics Team for the past seven years. The team has grown from seven-eight students to a roster of 26 members who have competed in tournaments and participated in team activities this year.
The team has had various coaches over the years, with Kim Sarosi and Jane Vogel, two parents, being the constants as head coaches have changed.
The FGR 2018 Forensics Team
Lilia Oldenburg (Poetry, semi-finalist at states), Dominic Schoenle (Prose, competed at States), Maria Schoenle (Storytelling), Piper Daleiden (Storytellng, competed at states), Ignatius Ireeta (Extemporaneous, competed at States), Daniela Alvarez and Justin Donahue (A duo-Novice State Champions and 6th in regular states), Carolyn Bonar (Storytelling), Thomas Dylewski (Dramatic Interp), Annie Henseler and Sarah Jana (A Duo), Daniel Bischoff (Poetry competed at States), Grace Alexandrowski (Impromptu), Corine Gibson (Oratory), Katelyn Villa (First FGR student to compete in Informative), Maria DiFranco (Storytelling), Reem Farjo (Oratory), Colleen Hammond (Impromptu), Lauren Plant and Patricia Terhaar (Duo made it to semi-finals at States), Kennidy Polcyn (Drmamtic Interp), Christen Schoenle (3rd place in Storytelling at States), Renee Thompson (Storytelling), Anna Vogel (Oratory), and Natalie Walter (Dramatic Interp, made it to State Semis).