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GBHS places 7th at the State Championship
Great Bend High School State Forensics Team members are, back row from left: Robert Brining, CJ Gibson, Dinah Newman, Daniel Abbott, Patrick Heath; front row: Malachi Wasson, Jalyn Lear, Bayle Sandy, Tia Mitchell, Isaiah Smith.

SALINA — Ten students from Great Bend High School earned honors at the Kansas State High School Activities Association 5A State Forensics Championship and finished 7th as a team. More than 30 Kansas public and private schools from across the state were represented at the May 4 tournament held at Salina South High School.

The Panthers qualified for the state championship by placing first or second at invitational meets from January through April. Each school could enter a maximum of 16 entries.  

Students participated in three preliminary rounds of competition in a variety of public speaking and oral interpretation events in front of judges who evaluated their performances. Those with the most successful results moved forward in the competition to semi-finals; and, if successful there, on to the final rounds. Great Bend High School had five of its 16 entries advance to semi-finals and three of those entries competed in the final round.    

“To take a full team of almost all first-year students and be competitive at such a difficult state competition was amazing,” said head forensics coach Kim Heath. “I’m very proud of the large degree of success our students have achieved this year, and I am deeply grateful for the support that our administration has given to our debate and speech program.”

GBHS found the greatest success in Dramatic Interpretation. In this event, students cut a serious 10-minute scene from a single work of literature to memorize and perform. Jalyn Lear finished 4th in the state with a performance entitled “Ribbons,” about a daughter’s struggle with her mother’s cancer diagnosis. Junior Bayle Sandy won 5th place with “Spoonface Steinberg.” Freshman Tia Mitchell also collected points for the Panthers with a Dramatic Interpretation called “Multiple-Personality Murder.”

In Informative Speaking, students present a 10-minute, memorized speech they have written and use visual aids they have created to educate the audience on a topic of their choosing. Junior Patrick Heath placed 6th in the state with his speech entitled “Five Inches Apart” on the Siamese twins. Great Bend High School was strong in this event with Daniel Abbott, CJ Gibson and Dinah Newman also earning points for the team in Informative Speaking.

In Program of Oral Interpretation, students weave together different literary genres across fiction and nonfiction for a 10-minute presentation focused on a social issue. The event highlights students’ dramatic advocacy skills as they choose texts and messages around which to craft their performance. Tia Mitchell finished 7th in the state with her program on attention deficit disorder entitled, “Researched, Medicated, and Misunderstood.” Senior Jalyn Lear was also a semi-finalist in POI and placed 8th.  

In Duo Interpretation students perform with partners in a 10-minute, memorized scene from a single piece of literature. Freshmen Isaiah Smith and Malachi Wasson competed with a one-act play by Don Zolidis, “The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon.”

In Original Oratory students write and present a 10-minute, memorized speech that develops a problem and solution that they perceive in society. Representing the Panthers in this event were Robert Brining with a speech on open communication, and Bayle Sandy with an oration on not jumping to false conclusions.

Junior Daniel Abbott competed with a 7-minute reading of literature in Prose Interpretation to earn points for the Panthers. The story he read was “Pecerino’s First Concert.”  

In Humorous Interpretation, students perform 10-minute entertaining cuttings that bring to life several characters each. Patrick Heath performed “Calvin Coolidge and the Dinosaurs”; Malachi Wasson presented “Jack, the Beanstalk and Social Services”; and Isaiah Smith acted out “Ten Reasons You Should Have Stayed Home Sick.” 

The forensic students’ points were combined together toward the 7th-place team finish. Coach Heath said the outlook for future competitions is strong as the team will only be graduating two seniors, Robert Brining and Jalyn Lear.