Fighting fear: Canfield students embrace public speaking, debate

Members of Canfield High School's speech and debate team are practicing a national speech and debate tournament

Members of Canfield High School's speech and debate team are practicing for what is called forensics. Students complete in several categories: Acting, Debate, Political Commentary, and Oratory.

CANFIELD, Ohio (WYTV) – Fighting the nation’s biggest fear, local high school students recently qualified to compete in a national speech and debate tournament in Alabama.

Members of Canfield High School’s speech and debate team are practicing for what is called forensics. Students complete in several categories: Acting, Debate, Political Commentary, and Oratory.

Coach Jeremy Hamilton said at any one time, he has more than 70 students on his team. Tuesday, he held a joint practice with several other schools.

It’s the kind of friendly community the students say forensics is all about.Members of Canfield High School's speech and debate team are practicing for what is called forensics. Students complete in several categories: Acting, Debate, Political Commentary, and Oratory.

“They just love being part of this organization, and it’s their infectious spirit that makes us the team we are,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton says this year is one of his strongest classes that he has coached.

Zack Bernat is one of the top-ranked competitors in the Humorous Interpretation category.

“I’ve always been good at making funny voices and doing weird things with my face just to make sure there’s differentiation in my speech,” he said.

But why do it?

Public speaking is rated as one of the top fears among adults, but these kids do it for fun.

Some of the students say they enjoy arguing while others say speech and debate can also give you new skills.

“It’s made me the person I am today. I would never go back and change a single thing up to this point,” said Bernat.

The team’s next big stopping point will be the state tournament during the first weekend in March. Canfield will be taking 34 students there.