3 DHS students place among top 24 in state forensics competition

Published 5:30 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2024

The Danville High School forensics team is back from the Kentucky High School Speech League state competition on March 8-9, after the whole team qualified to move on to state. Two team members placed in the top 12 statewide, and one team member placed in the top 24.

Senior Grace Haines and freshman Abbie Pennington placed in the top 12 — Haines for original oratory, and Abbie for extemporaneous speaking. Sophomore Georgie Farmer placed in the top 24 for prose. The team also includes senior June Wagner and freshmen Lilly Bratcher, Charlie Kinkade, Avery Dunn and Ellie Pennington.
Leading the team is Forensics Coach Karen Tompkins, who is also a teacher at Edna L. Toliver Intermediate School.

“I’ve seen such amazing growth in every single one of these kids, especially my freshmen,” Tompkins said. “They have all gone from being nervous and soft spoken to getting up there with confidence and speaking with expertise.”

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Bratcher said to Tompkins, “I thought [speech] would be really scary … but you really helped us.”

Haines said she enjoyed coming together with other forensics team students from other schools at the competition and seeing them cheer each other on. About DHS’s own team, she said, “We have a small team, but we’re mighty.”

“I think speech is just a really good skill, and it’s helped me grow so much, my confidence in front of people in general,” she said. “I’m also a cheerleader, so I’m in front of a lot of people a lot. Before I joined speech, I was really shy, and being in front of people would embarrass me. But with speech, I’ve gotten so used to it.”

Abbie said she enjoyed her topic at the competition, since it had to do with sports. Farmer learned about the importance of enunciation and felt good about memorization skills after memorizing seven pages of a speech.

Wagner, who is partially responsible for the team’s slogan, “Amplify Your Voice,” joined the team as a junior and has found public speaking skills to be useful not just on the forensics team, but also in life.

Similarly, Dunn said about speech, “It’s really helped me with essays in my other classes.”

Ellie said she typically gets involved with sports, and forensics is something new for her.

Kinkade and Bratcher, two of four DHS students invited to attend DECA’s Ignite Academy (along with students Brynn Haden-McCowan and Anna Watson), found the skills they learned on the forensics team helpful with DECA as well. Kinkade said he found skills learned from the forensics team helpful when giving presentations for DECA and working with time constraints.

Tompkins said looking forward, a few of the team members will be visiting 8th graders at John W. Bate Middle School to recruit incoming freshmen for the team. The team will be working on new events, and she’ll be learning as a coach by studying teams competing on a national level and helping the team as they practice and write speeches.