Nevada Forensic Association State Tournament

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More than 250 of Nevada's best high school speech and debate students gathered at Carson High School, competing for top honors in a number of categories, from extemporaneous speaking and dramatic interpretation to debate.

By Saturday afternoon, the school's main hall was filled with students waiting for semifinals to begin in the Nevada Forensic Association State Tournament. They gathered in groups around tables, played cards or sat on the stairs. Some caught a quick nap as they waited.

Elko High School junior Lauren Landa, who competed in expository speaking, said students are chosen by their school coaches, based primarily on the students' dedication and ability.

"It's a lot of work," she said. "But it teaches us a lot about public speaking and that will be useful later on. A lot of my friends do this, too, so it's also a lot of fun."

"Being in forensics has helped my confidence and changed the way I think," said Stephanie Dalmer, a senior at Elko High School.

According to judge Robert Wexler, high school debate offers students a lifetime of benefits, teaching them how to effectively organize ideas and make powerful presentations.

Rather than basing decisions on their own prejudices, judges are asked to consider a number of factors including analysis skills, the use of evidence, clarity of organization and validity of the argument.

"I'm looking for excellence in the fundamentals of debate," Wexler told semifinalists Paul Mileo and Nick Fiori of Douglas High School.

The two were pitted against Kim Adler and Charles Goodwin, both of Silverado High School in Las Vegas and the teams debated the use of permissive action links, security devices used to prevent the unsanctioned use of nuclear weapons.

This competition determines which are the best student debaters in the state, but to compete nationally, students must enter their respective division competitions in either northern or southern Nevada.

Scheduled for April, that competition leads to the nationals in Charlotte, N. C. in June.


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