Hanover forensics team conducts debate at Grafton

Kali Wright

On Wednesday, March 4, a Regional
Forensics competition was
held at Grafton High School. Students
from many different schools traveled
to compete in the tournament.
Two of HHS’s students, sophomore
Becka Russo and senior Mikaela
Stephens, accompanied Wendy
Aschenbach to Grafton High School
to participate in this competition.
“In theatre class we did a small
unit on writing our own speeches. It
was our forensics unit, and I ended
up talking to people in forensics and
doing impromptu speaking at a practice
competition,” Russo explained in
describing how she first got into Forensics.
“I was involved with Debate before
moving to Forensics. About four
or five years ago, Mr. Hefko asked
me to do Forensics because he was
in charge of Theatre and Forensics at
the time,” Wendy Aschenbach, Special
Education Teacher and Forensics
Coach, said.
High School students from all
around Virginia came to this event,
so some competitive nature was sure
to be expected.
“The atmosphere was a little competitive.
People weren’t really that
friendly until after the first round
once they had heard you speak and
knew what category you were in.
Most people kind of kept to themselves,”
Russo said.
Despite the competition, the spectators
and competitors handled the
stress in a professional manner.
“The atmosphere was very cordial
and very professional. The kids
are respectful of what everyone else
does. It’s a very individual type competition,”
Aschenbach said.
Those involved with Forensics
find it to be beneficial to them in
many different situations in life. For
instance, Russo says that Forensics
has dramatically improved her performance
in Theatre.
“I now know my strengths and
weaknesses with speaking. I know that
sometimes I talk a little fast, or I tend
to play with my clothes as I speak. It’s
helped me analyze what I do wrong so
that on stage I can give the best performance
I can,” Russo said.
After being involved with forensics
for many years, Aschenbach has
witnessed the many benefits that
come from forensics.
“I feel like today, kids are on
their phones so often that they don’t
orally communicate very well. Oral
communication skills are huge. Even
if you aren’t planning on being the
next big actor or actress, being able
to get up and speak in front of people
is a really good skill to have. Being
able to present yourself in a professional
way is really important,”
Aschenbach said.
Stephens has her own outlook on
the ways forensics has benefitted her
“Forensics has taught me a lot about
patience and being a dynamic person. I
have learned to be dynamic person and
be willing to work and alter things.
Anything could happen where you
suddenly get a new idea and change
it, just being able to go with it and try
new things,” Stephens said.
Even experiencing people from
other teams and places do great
things can be rewarding during these
At this year’s regional competition,
Stephens got the chance to witness
a girl step up and beat expectations
from past competitions.
“In my regionals competition
where I had gotten second place and
this other girl from Glen Allen had
gotten third, she actually placed first
this time against the toughest competition
I had ever seen,” Stephens said.
Overall, the competition was able
to give the participants wonderful
skills they can carry with them
throughout many situations in life
and they were able to experience
new situations and people that they
could learn from.


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