What is forensics?
Forensic competition is a contest between individuals or teams in various argument and advocacy skills. Northland Pines Middle School and High School students learn to excel in speech and debate skills to help them become effective communicators, an essential skill typically required by all employers.
Major forensic debate competitions include cross examination and Lincoln-Douglas contests, extemporaneous speaking (informative and persuasive), and oral interpretation (prose and poetry). Duo interpretations, humorous interpretations and public forum debates are also common national competitions. The continued popularity of forensic competition lead to the creation of the Council of Forensic Organizations (COFO) in 1984. One of main reasons COFO was created was to establish a national tournament calendar.
Organized debate has a long history in the United States, with the Lincoln-Douglas contests of the 1850s being perhaps the most famous example. In 1910, the desire for debate and declamation contests was the impetus for creating what is now one of the nation's largest competitive academic programs, Texas' University Interscholastic League (UIL). It was not until 1920 that Texas held its first state high school football championship. The NFL created a national high school competition in 1930. The AFA created a collegiate national tourney in 1966, following the tradition of a yearly meet at West Point begun in 1947.
Forensic competition alumni have excelled in various endeavors. Ted Turner and Oprah Winfrey created media conglomerates. Renee Zellweger and Patricia Neal won Academy Awards. Shelly Long and Kelsey Grammar received Emmys. Brian Lam founded CSPAN, a ground zero of public forum discussion. Not surprisingly, several United States senators participated in high school debate competitions, including Russ Feingold, William Frist and Richard Lugar. Before Supreme Court justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor asked questions from the bench, they debated topics in high school.