Ahwatukee Foothills' Desert Vista High School qualified 10 students for the National Forensics League national tournament June 13-18 in Dallas.

The team was named a National School of Excellence for the fourth year in a row and placed 16th overall in the total number of points. They placed 10th overall in the category of School of Excellence-Speech.

The National Forensics League represents more than 2,800 high schools and 100 middle schools. Teams from China, Canada, Puerto Rico and South Korea also qualified for the tournament.

Students competed in 11 different events that included policy debate, public forum debate and dramatic interpretation. Each category is scored differently, but judges award points based on how clearly a student can present their argument.

Brendan Porter, 18, placed fourth in the Congressional Debate category, which involves students trying to argue for or against a bill as if they were a member of Congress.

"It is a simulation of U.S. Congress, where the students write topics on bills, like getting rid of oil subsidies and other real-life issues, and make up a list of six or seven unique points that help your argument," said Porter, who will be attending Arizona State University in the fall.

In addition to the serious and legal events, there is the humorous interpretation event.

DV junior Samuel Abney placed in the top 30 after having to give his performance 10 different times to advance through the tournament.

"The goal is to incite laughter and you want to do it in as creative of a way as possible," Abney, 17, said. "Judges look for creativity and whether or not the jokes will appeal to a variety of people."

The tournament took place at the Sheraton Hotel in Dallas. While it was intense at times, Porter said it was also invigorating to be around motivated and intelligent people.

"It was kind of like a hockey game, it was exciting and nerve-racking at the same time," he said. "You're around 3,500 people all with the same idea of wanting to win."

Matt Bennett, director of forensics at DV, said the practice schedule got intense leading up to the tournament.

Students were regularly putting 40 hours each week into improving their skills and their performances.

"Our results in the tournament speaks to the quality of the students," Bennett said. "We ran mock schedules of what it would be like if they made it to the finals, which meant going through 13 rounds."

There is no doubt that the DV students are dedicated and Bennett said he knows they will come back ready to go again next year.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or troemhild@ahwatukee.com

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