CHS forensics finishes third in state tournament

Published 11:41 am Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Cumberland High School Forensics Team finished its 2016 season with 12 students earning high accolades at the Virginia High School League State Forensics Tournament on April 2 at Cloverhill High in Midlothian.

Amatul-Malik Fulani, Demory Williamson, Kaylah Paras, John Jefferies and Shayna Swanson all finished third in their individual competitions, while their peers placed within the top six in their classification.

Third-year forensic competitor and team captain Williamson competed this year in serious dramatic interpretation after spending two years working as part of a duo. Her piece, “An Unknown Part of the Ocean” by Sheri Wilner, was about an 8-year-old girl trying to understand her mother’s cancer and how the chemotherapy that is supposed to heal her is making her feel so ill.  Williamson found her emotional center and was able to secure several first-place finishes over the season, ending with the third place at state. Having attended state competition previously, Williamson remarked that returning helped calm some of her nerves since she was “already familiar with the process.” Williamson will return next year to continue her tenure as captain.

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“Next year I hope we will continue to grow closer and learn from our mistakes,” she said. “If the people around us are trying to raise themselves above this year’s results, I believe they will inspire the entire team with them. That sort of motivation will be really good for any rookies who will start out running with role models to follow.”

After four years on the team, Fulani, a senior, made her first appearance at state with an original oratory piece entitled “Technology and Human Interaction.” Her speech debated the merits of technology and how people are abandoning person-to-person contact in favor of digital interaction. Excited about her third-place finish, Fulani said, “I tried my best and it took a lot of practice, but I finally achieved [my] goal. It was an eye-opening experience for me. I am satisfied with my finish, even though I originally aimed for first.” After graduating in May, Fulani will attend VCU and study pre-medicine.

The other CHS third place medalists included first-time state competitor Paras, who chose a collection of poems by Taylor Mali and Megan Falley that show the tragic course of an abusive relationship. The returning state competition duo of Swanson and Jefferies competed in humorous duo for the second consecutive year. Their piece was Emily Snyder’s “Math for Actors.”

Also appearing at the state tournament this year were sophomore Holly Tillett, fifth-place humorous interpretation, senior Justin Crawford and sophomore Lexi Ellis, fifth-place serious dramatic duo, freshmen Hallye Workman, fifth-place serious interpretation, Katey Hougland, fifth-place storytelling, Maddi White, sixth-place storytelling, and Brittny Price, sixth-place extemporaneous.

For more information on CHS Forensics contact Charles Haigh at (804) 492-4212 or email