New Members Day, December 2 2014

NewMembersDay2014_facebookeventJoin the coaches and team members of the NHS Forensics team for a special day to welcome new and interested members. The hour-long event takes place from 3:30-4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 2. Find out more about forensics and participate in activities that help you discern the best competitive category for you!

Forensics is the art of competitive speaking, acting, and interpretation of literature. The team will meet every other week on Tuesdays after school. Individual and/or group practices with coaches can be scheduled to accommodate other extracurricular activities.

If you want more information about forensics, or you can’t make the meeting but are still interested in joining the team, contact Head Coach Kirt Graves at


Mark Your Calendars: October Mini Bootcamps


Save the dates! We’ll be having two Mini Forensics Bootcamps on Saturday, October 18 & Saturday, October 25 from 10:00-2:00 p.m. in the Public Meeting Room on the second floor of the Mead Public Library. Use this time to continue (or start) working on your speech or piece! We’ll also set aside some time during these Bootcamps to discuss recruiting new members.

Speaking of new members, the Mini Bootcamps are a great time to bring in any new members who have already expressed interest. I’ll have information available for them to take home, and this will be a low-pressure and informal introduction to forensics, prior to our big push in November.

AND speaking of introductions, we have a new assistant forensics coach. Perhaps you’ll have the chance to meet him or her at these events.

Forensics Boot Camp August 11-15


The first annual Sheboygan North Forensics Boot Camp will take place August 11-15. Returning members of the NHS Forensics team are encouraged to attend all sessions in order to prepare for the 2015 competitive season.

Before you’re bombarded by the pressures of the school year, swept away by auditions for the fall musical, or lost to the abyss that will be Shonda Rhimes Thursdays on ABC, write a speech, cut an interp, or block an acting piece…or do all three! Benefit from the assistance of coaches, alumni and your team mates during nearly 20 uninterrupted hours to just focus on forensics!

Monday, August 11
5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Kirt’s House

Reconnect with team mates during this (mostly) social night. Dinner will be provided. While we’re enjoying each others’ company, we can also discuss your plans for the forensics season and lay out some team goals and deadlines.

Tuesday, August 12
3:00 – 5:00 p.m. & 5:00-9:00 p.m.
The Loft at Mead Public Library

Research and find pieces. Once the library closes, we’ll move to Paradigm for writing and cutting.

Wednesday, August 13
5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
The Loft at Mead Public Library

Research and find pieces. Continue writing & cutting. Begin practicing rough cuts for timing.

Thursday, August 14
3:00 – 5:00 p.m. & 5:00-9:00 p.m.
The Loft at Mead Public Library

For anyone who hasn’t already, research and find pieces. Once the library closes, we’ll move to Paradigm for more writing and cutting.

Friday, August 15
3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
The Loft at Mead Public Library

Group progress check and presentations.

The goal of this time together isn’t necessarily to complete your piece (though wouldn’t that be amazing?!), but rather to give you the time and resources to make a huge head start. Forensics Boot Camp is ONLY for returning members. There will not be time to go through all the categories and rules for new members, so it would not be beneficial for them to join us at this time. If returning members have made the huge head start expected, we will be able to welcome new members in November with the proper time to mentor and assist them.

If you have questions or concerns, contact Kirt.

Meeting Recap 12.10.13

We were happy to introduce the team’s assistant coach, Zach Lulloff. Zach’s focus is acting & interp, especially Storytelling. Please contact him for practice times.

We also had the opportunity to witness the difference between appropriate tournament attire and inappropriate tournament attire. Here’s a run down of some of the do’s and don’t’s:

Dress up. Your look should be professional and pulled together. No jeans, t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, tennis shoes, pajama pants or cargo pants. Suits are encouraged. Slacks and a button-up, long sleeve shirt for boys is also appropriate. As are skirts with blazers, slacks with modest blouses and/or sweaters for girls. (If you can, invest in the suit. You’ll get your money’s worth out of it. I promise.)
Wear comfortable shoes. You stand and walk a lot at tournaments. Don’t develop a limp by third round because you haven’t broken your shoes in yet.
Coordinate outfits if you’re in a group category. You’re not allowed to be in costume, but wearing similar colors as your partner or group is not costuming.
Wear muted colors. Make sure your outfit doesn’t distract from the performance. Bright colors may stand out, but no one is judging your style.
Wear a tie. Boys have no excuse for not wearing a tie. I have a ton of ties, and you may borrow one if you don’t have one that matches.

Wear busy patterns. Again, don’t distract from the performance.
Wear large or glittery jewelry. If it jingles, jangles or shines, leave it at home.
Wear tight or revealing clothing. Keep it classy…knee length skirts, no cleavage, and clothes that don’t allow the audience to know what kind of underwear you’re wearing. Ladies may wear sleeveless tops ONLY if they are wearing a jacket or sweater for performance. (There is no situation in which gentlemen may wear a sleeveless shirt.) AND LEGGINGS ARE MEANT TO BE WORN UNDER ANOTHER PIECE OF CLOTHING. THEY ARE NOT PANTS!
Forget to shower. Being clean is 90% of the battle. Make sure to leave enough time in the morning (or do it the night before) to shower and tame your mane.

You may wear comfortable clothes for the bus ride. There will be time at tournaments to change and finish applying make-up or fixing hair. I do reserve the right to pull you from competition if I see you wearing something that I deem inappropriate. So if you’re not sure if a potential outfit is OK, ask me in advance!

Fines for missing tournaments

The team was introduced the NHS  Forensics web site. One of the functions of the web site is to sign up for tournaments. If you sign up for a tournament, but can not attend, you must give 48 hours notice. Without that notice, you will be charged a $10.00 fee for every individual entry and $20.00 fee for every group entry. I can no longer forgive absences due to illness. We need every dime to allow our growing team to compete. And paying tournament fees is only the beginning. In addition to paying entry fees at a tournament, the team also pays judges, which are determined by the number of entries we have. One student can mean the difference between bringing six judges or seven judges. We also pay for the bus, which is only necessary if we’re bringing enough students to warrant having a bus over a much cheaper van. (With 46 students currently on our roster, I’ve booked a bus for every tournament this year.)

Of course, my preference is that you sign up for tournaments and then attend them. So let’s just do that.

Finally, team officers were announced. Congratulations to this year’s leaders!


Meeting Recap 12.03.13 (Cutting a Piece)

This is the second Meeting Recap for 12.03.13. Previously, I elaborated on how to outline a speech. Here I will talk about best practices when cutting a piece.

Tell A Complete Story

Your primary objective when cutting a piece (be it prose, duo, solo acting, etc.) is to tell a complete story. Make sure your selection has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Or in other terms, make sure it includes exposition (where does it take place and who is involved?), some sort of conflict (does your character have an obstacle to overcome or a goal to achieve?), and some resolution (don’t end on your climax — your audience won’t know what to do).

Establish Essential Information

In any play or novel, there are lots of sub-plots, dialogue, and even characters that are non-essential for telling the complete story. Cut them. (If the sub-plots are your favorite part, then make one of them your main story. But if that doesn’t include a beginning, middle & end, then try again.) Make sure everything you include advances the story.

Change It Up

Once you’ve eliminated everything you feel is not essential, you’ll most likely still need to cut for time. So how do you determine which content is worth keeping and which can be set aside? Choose scenes & characters that offer some variation in pace, characterization and tone. Showing variation to your judge will set you apart, whereas ten minutes of static performance can put him/her to sleep.

Good luck, and happy cutting!


Meeting Recap 12.03.13 (Speech Outline)

Tuesday’s meeting focused on two big challenges that every forensicator faces, especially our newest members: how to outline a speech & how to cut a piece. This post will focus on speech outlines, and I’ll follow up with the piece cutting in the next post.

Don’t do what I did when I was in forensics. I thought that I was a talented enough writer to skip outlining. My ideas and my research and my wit would be enough! Not true. Without fail, I floundered and ended up polishing my speech in the wee hours of the morning before the first tournament of the year. With only a couple hours of sleep, I then frantically memorized on the bus en route to the tournament. It’s not worth the hassle. I know now that I was not better than the process, and neither are you.


Before you begin outlining, ask yourself the following question: What is my speech about? You’d be surprised how many speech writers forget to answer this simple question before putting pen to paper. Your premise, or thesis for those of you in composition, should be one or two sentences and completely convey the point of your entire speech. If you can’t break down your premise into a couple sentences, then chances are it’s too big or vague for a 4-, 6-, 8- or 10-minute speech. Try again.

Value Statement/Call to Action

Every speech should also include some statement that demonstrates why your ideas are valuable or worth acting upon. Really great speakers don’t just inform their audience, they inspire them. Generally the value statement/call to action comes toward the end of your speech, but it can pop up throughout the speech as well. Again, it’s important to establish this early on, because if you can’t convince your audience that your topic is important, then you shouldn’t be doing a speech about it.


Develop 2, 3, or 4 arguments (with supporting evidence where appropriate) that back up your premise/thesis. If you can’t think of more than one, start over. If you can’t be convincing with less than five, start over. Remember, you want to convey your thoughts succinctly, and there is a time limit.


This is not rocket science, and I’m certain you’ve seen this structure for other writing projects. But it’s used so much because it works!

  1. Introduction
    Should include your premise
  2. Argument 1
  3. Argument 2
  4. Argument 3 (if necessary)
  5. Argument 4 (if necessary)
  6. Conclusion
    Should reference your introduction and touch on your premise again

A quick word on introductions and conclusions: Don’t worry so much about being clever, funny or shocking that you can’t make your introduction connect with your premise. First and foremost, you should begin and end your speech being relevant.

Once you’ve outlined your speech, then you can begin writing. You’ll find that the structure allows you to think more clearly and gives you direction and goals to achieve as you work.