LIVINGSTON, NJ - After months of preparation, the Randolph Middle School forensics team placed second overall this past Saturday at the Lancer Junior Invitational in Livingston. Led by coach Vincenzina Mlenak and mentor Aaron Bennett, the team of 14 students closed out the top four places in Varsity Interpretive Reading, or a vocally-based performance of a selection from a novel or short story, with a very impressive 8th grade squad.
Out over 20 entries in the category, Brett Ludwig took fourth place, Samantha Tassillo took third, Caitlyn Dempsey took second, and Bryn Bennett championed the event. Eighth-grader Emily Marovitz took third in Varsity Declamation, an equally competitive event that consists of a memorized delivery of a previously-delivered speech.
"I've been coaching these kids since they were in sixth grade," team mentor Bennett said. "I was very proud to see this successful culmination of all their hard work."
Bennett, a junior at Randolph High School and active competitor for the high school forensics team, was elected to the position of Middle School Program Director for his sophomore season and was reelected for his junior year. Next year, he will serve as team president for the high school team.
"The team placing second overall--falling short of only the host school--is an incredible accomplishment. Every student, whether he or she placed or not, should be extremely proud and satisfied of the team's performance."
Randolph Middle School's forensics team consists of almost sixty 6th, 7th, and 8th graders who regularly attend meetings. Practices consist of warm ups, piece work, and usually a performance by a high school forensics competitor. The goal is ultimately to improve the communication skills of students by providing an outlet for self-expression and creativity. At competitions, a lot of emphasis is placed on maturity and sportsmanship. Regardless of whether they advance to the final round or not, Randolph prides itself on a very supportive and cohesive team culture.
"Every student on this team, regardless of rankings and placements, made Randolph proud this weekend," said Bennett.
The team will have two more chances to compete this season. Randolph hosts an annual tournament, which will take place on May 16, and they will travel to Long Valley on May 30.