Who’s This For?¶
Forensic activities are intended for both middle and high school age students. There are certain events, or certain pieces one might select for an event, that require a bit more developmental maturity to handle, but anyone around age 12 and up should at least be able to get a start in these activities. If you’re wanting to give your children a head start in developing these skills, but they’re not quite old enough yet, we have some recommendations:
- Encourage them to read high-quality literature. One of the strongest ways to develop as a communicator is to learn from strong communicators of the past. This kind of learning via osmosis happens slowly and steadily, so the longer the exposure, the better.
- Focus on developing them as a writer. The skills of the written word are in many ways a prerequisite to the skills of the spoken word. There are countless resources available to you, but one we’d recommend is the Institute for Excellence in Writing.
- Help them develop their memorization and recitation skills. Start small—a sentence here, a paragraph there—but you’ll be amazed at how well kids can memorize things. Again, resources abound, but two we’d recommend are AWANA and catechism.
What Does Involvement Look Like?¶
For the Students¶
Consider this like any of your other academic subjects. Throughout the week, you’ll be researching, writing, memorizing, and practicing. As with most activities, the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it (up to a point—we don’t want you to be unhealthy here).
Club meetings will be held weekly on Fridays from 2–4 PM (see the calendar on our home page). We’ll strive to begin and end on time to respect the other constraints on your schedule and make the most of our short time together. Please come prepared, having completed any assignments from the previous meeting.
If you live outside of Albuquerque and are unable to make it to weekly meetings, let us know and we can work out a rhythm that works best for your family.
Our meeting time will be broken up as follows:
- Instruction: Some of our time will be spent introducing participants to new concepts, whether it’s something general, like how to structure a speech, or something more specific, like how to write a negative brief for Policy Debate.
- Worldview Analysis: Each week we’ll spend some time going over a prompt for either Apologetics or Mars Hill. The prompt will be assigned two weeks in advance, and participants will have the opportunity to present short speeches, talk through research, and swap notes.
- Practice: Some of our time will also be spent writing, memorizing, and giving speeches or performances. In addition to performing themselves, participants will also be able to act as judges, learning to offer constuctive criticism, and applying those lessons learned to their own performances.
- Research: Finally, participants will spend some time doing research both individually and collaboratively. Though much of the research will be done throughout the week outside of club meetings, it’s also important to kick ideas around with fellow club members and share evidence and lines of investigation.
We strongly encourage your participation in as many scrimmages and tournaments as you can fit into your schedule. Which ones you attend will depend on what events you want to compete in, and where and how often your family is willing to travel. We also intend to host club exhibitions once or twice per year, which will be chances to showcase what you’ve been working on to your community of friends, family, neighbors, etc.
For the Parents¶
Parental involvement is crucial to the success of this activity, but what it looks like can vary. At the very least, talk through what your student is working on regularly in the home. Are they staying up to date on current events? Talk through them at the dinner table. Are they developing a debate case? Have them walk through it with you and then play devil’s advocate. Are they working on honing a performance? Act as their audience and provide constructive feedback.
If you’re able to join us for our weekly club meetings, we would very much appreciate your help. We’ll wind up training you to both coach and judge right alongside us. The more people we have available to work with students individually or in small groups, the better.
Are you interested in honing these same skills in yourself? Feel free to jump right in and play the role of student alongside your child. There is no age limit on forensic activities. Public speaking is one of the things most commonly feared by adults—we can help you overcome that. If you’re a budding young orator, performer, or debater, we want to help develop that in you.
There’s also involvement in getting your kids to and from activities, some of which has already been mentioned. The amount of travel will depend on the competitions your student would like to attend. The NSDA scrimmages and tournaments are largely held in Albuquerque, but a few are also in Santa Fe and Las Cruces. There are currently no NCFCA or Stoa competitions held in New Mexico (yet—we’ll change that), so if you’d like to travel to those, you’ll have to look out of state. If you happen to qualify to compete at one of the national competitions, that will likely involve travel outside New Mexico (though the NSDA National Tournament should be coming to Albuquerque in the summer of 2024).
Some, but not all, of the NCFCA and Stoa tournaments, and all of the NSDA scrimmages and tournaments, will be held online this season, so there’s no travel involved for those events this year.
What Does It Cost?¶
At the moment, the club does not charge any participation fees. We provide this service because it’s a service that needs to be provided. That being said, participation is not necessarily free, as there are a number of costs that you may need to pay, depending on what you want to do.
As the club grows, if we wind up needing to rent space for our events, we’ll need to defray that cost somehow.
Any materials the club provides will be provided free of charge; however, both parents and students alike can benefit significantly by investing in additional learning materials (curricula, books, etc.). Check out our Resources page to see our recommendations.
National League Dues¶
Each of the national competition leagues has its own annual registration fee, ranging from $20 per student to $150 per family. Which of these you pay will depend on the tournaments you want to take part in. See the links below for full details:
If you wish to compete in NSDA tournaments through the NMSDA, we’ll need to connect you with your local high school team, which will likely have its own dues or payment structure.
Competition Registration Fees¶
Throughout the year it will be possible for students to compete in various tournaments or scrimmages. Registration fees will vary, but tend to be around $10 per competition event. Regional or national championships will be a bit more expensive (up to $75), but those happen less frequently. Again, the total cost to you is going to depend on how much you want to compete, both in how many events you’d like to do at a tournament, and how many tournaments you’d like to participate in.
Sign Me Up¶
After registering via the form above, you (both parent and child) will receive an invitation to join our Slack workspace where all of our club communication happens. Slack is our one-stop shop for all things communciation and collaboration—text messages, audio/video calls, document sharing, calendar notifications, polling, etc. If you’re unfamiliar with it, check out the Slack demo to get an idea of what it is, and then work through the getting started instructions and make sure you set your notification settings appropriately to ensure you don’t miss out on anything.
Our club’s Google Calendar is embedded in our home page. If you like, you can click the icon to add our calendar to your own calendar app. If not, you’ll receive calendar notifications via Slack as events approach, regardless.
There are a handful of free accounts that will be useful to have. Please create accounts at each of the following sites:
- ncfca.org: Gives you access to free resources, and will be required if you want to compete in NCFCA tournaments.
- speechanddebate.org: Gives you access to free resources, and will be required if you want to compete in NSDA tournaments. Also keeps track of points you earn while competing.
- tabroom.com: Required to compete in NSDA tournaments.
- speechranks.com: Keeps track of points you earn while competing in Stoa tournaments.