Early Showings Promise Successful Season for SMHS Forensics Team

All high school teams experience turn over, largely through graduation. And after the 2012 graduation, St. Mary’s High School’s forensics team wasn’t sure exactly what to expect in the coming season. Several key team members graduated. But the up-and-comers had lots of potential. In the last month the team has been put through its first tournaments of the season, and things are definitely looking good.


The St. Mary’s team members, including the novice members, have garnered several individual awards in the tournaments they have competed in so far. And the St. Mary’s team finished second in overall school scores in tournaments at both Mesa Ridge High School and Air Academy High School, losing by a narrow margin to Canon City High School at both tournaments.  


While it’s early in the season, team captain and senior Colton Calandrella feels that so far this season has started out on a stronger than last year.


“Although we lost a number of seniors last year, our team has already demonstrated that last year’s success was no anomaly; rather, it’s a trend,” Calandrella said. “The juniors have stepped up and filled the very successful shoes of our graduated seniors, while the underclassmen are showing signs of great things to come.”


Since the SMHS forensics program has experienced several years of success, Coach Rosie Camous said the feeling of uncertainty about the next year is nothing new for the team. Returning team members understand what is needed to succeed and Camous said the team captains take the job seriously.


“While some students might find this task daunting, the team captains use the success of the previous year to fuel their desire to not only do as well as the previous year but to surpass it,” she said. “This has been especially true this year.”

This year’s team captains are: seniors Joe McAdams, Colton Calandrella, Amy Resman, and Sarah Tafolla, and junior Eliana Wackerman. 


Camous said each year the forensics team starts the season with a motto. This year the motto is “Build a Legacy,” and Camous believes the team has taken the motto to heart.


“I believe the determination and drive of the team captains and the varsity members to leave an indelible mark is evidenced by the way they are mentoring the new members of the team to insure the program will continue to thrive and be successful in the future,” she said. “These students exemplify and embody the traits of true leaders.”


While the captains are integral to the team’s results, Camous credits the entire school community with contributing to the success of the team. She said the team members are “extremely gifted” students who work hard to develop their crafts, but it is those behind the scenes—from transportation personnel to parents who work with the team—that help make everything happen. Camous said the team even has parents who hear practices and have one who has taken the time to be certified as a CHSAA representative so the team can be split between two different meets.


“Having this kind of support both from the school, the parents, and the team captains is almost unheard of and is envied by most schools,” Camous said. “Each team member recognizes that our success is due in part to the support consistently received, and the way they honor that support is to compete to the best of their abilities so they can represent their school, their parents, and, ultimately, themselves well during competition.”


Having a certified CHSAA representative so the team can attend different meets was integral recently. Early in November Camous decided to split the team to give all team members an opportunity to compete.


“The more experienced team members went to Denver East High School while the rest of the team stayed a little closer to home and competed in Woodland Park,” Camous said. “Overall, the team had a good day considering that this was the first tournament of the year for some team members.”


Calandrella said the forensic team’s goal this year is to match the success of last year’s team, including the total number of team members who qualify for both state and national championships. Last year the Pirates had 14 team members qualify for state and seven qualify for nationals. Once qualified the hope is to come away with similar, or better, results. That would mean having at least two state champions this year and having at least one team take fifth place or better at nationals.


“Those were phenomenal results coming from a small private school,” Camous said. “However, I believe that our students are determined to prove that with hard work, determination, and support, all things are possible.”


For now state and nationals championships remain goals to shoot for. But after only a handful of tournaments, Calandrella feels confident about what is to come.


“It is still early in the year, but I have a very promising feeling about the team as a whole and the continuation of the St. Mary’s forensics legacy. Our early success bodes well for the rest of the season,” he said.


By Amy G. Partain, Communications Associate
St. Mary’s High School


Early Forensic Results

Widefield High School tournament: Freshmen Kathleen Resman, 4th in Poetry; Cassidy Anderson, 5th in Original Oratory; Aman Mital and Grant Nelson, 5th place in Public Forum Debate.  

 Doherty High School tournament: freshmen Javier Padilla and Emma Cummings, 3rd place in Duo Interpretation; Kathleen Resman, 4th place in Poetry.

Mesa Ridge HS Congressional Debate competition: Seniors Colton Calandrella and Joe McAdams, Outstanding Speaker (1st place) in congress chambers; Paulina Menichiello, Outstanding Speaker; Amy Resman, Outstanding Speaker; Kuran Mital and Steven Murphy, Superior Speaker.

Air Academy HS Congressional Debate competition: Colton Calandrella and Joe McAdams, Superior Speaker (2nd place) in congress chambers; Paulina Menichiello, Outstanding Speaker.

Pueblo West tournament: Kuran Mital, 3rd in Humorous Interpretation; Sarah Tafolla and Amy Resman, 2nd in Duo Interpretation; Joe McAdams, 6th pace in Foreign Extemporaneous Speaking; Colton Calandrella, 1st in Foreign Extemporaneous Speaking; Joe Wahl and Michael Tafolla, 5th in Public Forum Debate; Joe McAdams and Colton Calandrella, 1st in Public Forum Debate; SMHS, 2nd team overall.

 Mile High Invitational (Denver East): Sara Tafolla and Amy Resman, quarterfinals in Duo Interpretation; Steven Murphy and Eliana Wackerman, octofinals in Lincoln Douglas Debate; Joe McAdams and Colton Calandrella, 1st place, Public Forum Debate; Matt Heery, 5th place, US Extemporaneous Speaking.

 Woodland Park tournament: Sarah Kraus, 2nd in Humorous Interpretation

 JK Mullen High School (Denver): Colton Calandrella and Joe McAdams, 1st in PF Debate; McAdams, 4th in FX; Calandrella, 2nd in FX; Eliana Wackerman, 2nd in Lincoln Douglas Debate; Jackie Drummond, 4th in Dramatic Interpretation.




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