The first forensics tournament that Sean (my play-acting parter) and I went to was on the tenth of February. I woke up at five forty five that morning. A bit early for a Saturday, but since that's when I get up every other morning, it was okay for me. To my surprise, Brica (my sister) was in the shower already by the time I dropped out of bed about five minutes later, so I went downstairs and ate breakfast. Brica finally left the shower, at six o'clock, so I had about half an hour to shower and get ready.

We arrived at our High School at about six twenty five, and the busses weren't there yet, so we waited. Our bus arrived so we loaded on. Sean and I ran through our lines once or twice on the way down, and then we got bored. It took about an hour and a half to get to West Bend.

We finally arrived at the hospital, I mean the West Bend High school. Well, it looked awfully like a hospital! It truly was huge. As we entered the school, we got a strong draft of air at us. It could be actually called a gust probably. Outside was almost totally still, but entering was windy. Once inside, there wasn't a trace of air movement, but just in that little corridor it was windy!

We went in and awaited instruction from Mr. Berger, our coach. He said that there was going to be a meeting for us because we had to be bussed from there to the Badger Middle School.

After waiting for over half an hour for the meeting, Nathan and Sam (the other group of play actors) got fed up and decided to see if the bus was out there. It was, but by the time we (Sean and I) figured out that Nathan and Sam weren't back, and decided to go look for ourselves, we were just in time to see Nathan's leering face in the window as the bus pulled off. We decided to wait for the next bus along with some other people too, and piled on the next bus. We waited in the bus for twenty minutes at least, when we were informed that the bus meeting was also to discuss schedule changes, and if we didn't conform to them we would be disqualified. Naturally we trooped back in and found that we did have a schedule change. Nathan, of course, with all his luck, didn't have any. Any rate, we piled back onto the bus and arrived at Badger about an hour after we were supposed to. Sean and I found our first room pretty quickly, and found it to be occupied by no one but other students. No judges. How kind of them to wait for us, eh? Well, none arrived until another twenty minutes. I'm rather proud that I conversed quite a bit with the other students during this time (I'm usually quite quiet, but I'm trying to change).

Finally we got a judge and the competition began. We had one spectacular group in our room that got third place over all I think. Aside from them, we had one group that was pretty good, and one that wasn't very good. The pretty good one consisted of three older students that did pretty well. The one that was not so good consisted of three obviously first year forensicers (all girls) two of which played the parts of boys, which just didn't work too well. I know that I would have a difficult time doing a girl, so I think that was maybe not too wise.

This round I forgot a section. Since I realized almost immediately that I had skipped it, I found a way to salvage it, and it turned out alright. Sean said a wrong line at one point (though it was a very subtle mistake, hardly noticeable, or even too relevant) it threw me off so I said a wrong line too. I had to correct mine (since mine was not nearly as subtle) but it turned out alright as well.

That first round (though we didn't know it at the time) we scored three fives (the best ranking) and two fours (obviously the best team in that round). We didn't get our score sheets until after the meet, but we knew we did pretty well.

Our second round was in a different room so we asked around and found it. In this room there were several good groups. I don't think there were any obvious first yearers, but you never can tell (after all, I am one, yet I'm a sophomore). In this room we did our best performance. We deftly corrected our mistakes from the last round, and as far as I can remember, it was a perfect performance. I've probably forgotten something, but it was by far our best. We got four fives and a four. Quite good if you ask me.

Alas, we didn't just keep getting better. Our third round was by far our worse. We were in a shop classroom, so there weren't any rows of desks. It had one big island in the center, so it couldn't be set up that way. The other people in this round sat at the far end of the island with a few people along the sides, while the performers were at the end opposite. Probably because of this barrier the audience never really got into the story, or if they did, they showed no signs of it. The audience (as I can attest to from the second night of " Into the Woods" where the audience was dead) does play a large part in the performance. We would finish a joke, waiting for the laughter that had been in our other rounds, and had helped immeasurably to get ourselves into the plot, and it never came. That probably affected the judge too. I'm blaming it on the room, though it could have been just us.

This round there were several good people, but also one group of newbies. To my astonishment they did several clippings from "Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail" They didn't do a bad job, but it was probably a little much for them. Of course, in this round there was one spectacular group that was just wonderful. Two guys that did "Waiting for Godot". The script was a bit complicated for me, but their delivery of it alone made it fascinating.

In this round we just got four fours and a five, which was our worst for the meet, but I've been assured that for two first year people, is still good.

After competition, we were shipped back to the High School, where we waited for the power round contestants to be announced. An hour later there was nothing, and when we inquired, they said it would be posted in twenty five minutes at the very least. That time passed, and I conversed with some freshmen from Ripon. Finally someone came to tell us, as well as the whole cafeteria, that due to a computer problem, there were to be no power rounds, but all the scores of everyone would be tallied by hand and the top scores would be announced in the auditorium. We eventually wandered down there, and found a seat. We shouldn't have been so anxious because it was another couple of hours before they appeared to give the results. In the waiting time, paper airplanes were abundant in the air, and I ended up discussing why a dime dropped from about fifty stories up could kill, but a drop of water had little or no effect, with Dan Williams. Then the entertainment (if you can call it that) began. It began with one string of kids hopping onto the stage to perform for us the Funky Chicken. What fun, eh?

After that, various other people got up and did dances. That round of entertainment gave rise to another round. This one was various tunes played on a guitar that was passed around. One played a song by Collective Soul that I recognized and he was actually pretty good. He didn't sing to it, so we were safe. Later some not so conservative people went. They sang, and perhaps didn't have the best of voices. I had heard a madrigal group practicing in the cafeteria quietly, but they didn't sing on stage.

Finally the authority figures appeared. They read the results, amid much cheering from the various teams as their representative in a certain category was nominated or won first place. We (Ripon) received three first places. Lydia Deimer (senior) who did some sort of speech got one. Nathan and Sam of course got one, and much to our delight, Brica and her group got a first too!

After that we came home. On the bus we got our critique sheets, so we saw that we did do quite well.

The next Saturday was our next meet. That meet we didn't do nearly as well. We got a two, a three and a four. That's still pretty good, though, considering we're first year forensicers. Sean got rather depressed at that, though.

The Saturday after that, the meet was canceled due to seventy below (with windchill) weather. Since we didn't have a meet planed for the next Saturday, though, and the same school was hosting that week, we made up the lost meet. In that meet we got a one, a four, and a five. I thought it was kinda screwed up since we changed nothing at all during that meet, but Sean was downright flabbergasted. He was kinda moody on the ride home. I tried to tell him that that wasn't such an awful score, but he didn't come round.

The week after that was Solo-Ensemble. Both Sean and I participated in that, he in the Band part, and I in Choir. Neither of us got a 1*.

On the following Tuesday Ripon hosted the ECC championship. ECC stands for East Central Conference, which is just the league that Ripon is in, consisting of only eight schools. Here we got a two, a three and a four. Sean fell into his regular minor depression.

That Saturday there was another meet. There we got a two, a three and a five. I think we did so bad because our piece went about a minute over how long it was supposed to. We resolved to cut the time, and power next meet. All we needed at this time to do to get a letter in Forensics was to have twenty five points (at this time we had forty five or so), and power once. The other way to do it is to get a total of seventy five points throughout the season, though that seemed a bit unlikely at the time, as we had three meets left, and were averaging about nine points each meet.

Little did we know, though! The Saturday after that we had a meet. We found ways to cut the neccessary time, and generally got better during that week. During that meet we felt really good about how it was going. The first round, we didn't perceive any really hard competition, though there was a little. We estimated a one or two, and got a two.

The second round was a bit tougher seeming, though we managed a one. I admit I was a bit surprised at this, since there was a duo that I was sure would beat us.

The third round proved to be the most challenging, though. Two groups were very good, and we thought that we would probably get a three. As it turns out, we got a two, and I was admittedly VERY surprised. I was certain that they would both beat us, though as it turns out, we very nearly beat them both. The judge told us in her critiques that if we had only changed a bit of blocking, we would have gotten a first. This wasn't quite good enough to power, though.

This meet earned us a total of thirteen points, giving us fifty eight in all. At this rate, we figured, we only had to get eight points total at each of the remaining two meets, and we'd have it made. Since our lowest score ever at a meet had been eight, we figured we could pull it off.

On Friday of May twenty ninth, we had a meet. It was somewhat of a different meet though. It was in Waupaca, and there was a Student Congress in the morning, so we had to leave early, and miss the whole day of school. Student Congress is where someone makes a bill, and we make speeches about it, and finally vote. Sean and I both picked up five NFL points for speaking.

After Congress, we went about our usual business, except it was unusual this time. For some reason, NFL (standing for National FORENSICS League, not FOOTBALL) doesn't accept play acting. We had to modify our peice to be a Duo Interp. peice where we can't move our feet at all. Neither can we look at eachother, so I don't like it as much. Mr. Berger says that we do our lines much better this way, but I just don't like it as much. At any rate, the whole format of the meet is different.

It starts out with everyone doing two rounds. After these two rounds, half of the contestants are eliminated. If you ranked in the bottem half of your rounds, you are ranked "Down and Out" This is where Sean and I fell. The competition was really tough. Harder than play-acting had ever been.

After the third round, everyone who had ranked down and out after three rounds (you had to get two downs to be out) went to the hotel. Since more rounds were to be held the next day, and some people would make it until then, we needed the hotel. It was good for Sean and me because, since we were the only guys, we got a whole room with two beds to ourselves! One bed each. Our room was fine, but I heard that the other ones smelled of smoke.

The next day we came home.

We had a few weeks of rest after that, before the State forensics meet. I suppose we were supposed to use that time to improve, but in reality, Sean and I hardly practiced at all.

The Friday before the Saturday of the meet, there was a Student Congress. Sean and I attended so that we could pick up a few points just to insure that we lettered (though it was pretty much inevitable that we would at this time anyhow) He picked up seven points there, and I picked up four. I would have picked up more than that, except I only got to speak once. I prepaired a speech for another bill as well, but before I could give it, someone called "the previous question" which ended all speeches and forced a vote. Boy, let me tell you, it was going to be an awesome speech too! But alas.

At any rate, now Sean needed one point to letter, and I needed four. In other words, there was no way he COULDN'T letter, and only a slim chance that I wouldn't.

Our reasoning proved to be true. We both lettered, however we did rather poorly at the actual meet. We got a two, a four and a five. Again, I think that the system is screwy when we can get a two and a five in the same meet, but in this case, we didn't really care. We had lettered, and actually gotten better in that last meet than we had expected.

Thus ended the 1996 Forensic year.