Forensics and Nostalgia

So, I may have cried in front of a room full of high school students yesterday.

But in my defense, I’m pretty sure that was their intention.

They wanted to make me cry.

And so they did.

I didn’t get involved in a whole lot of stuff when I was in high school.

Marching Band. Those were my people. And I think I may have gotten mixed in with some jazz woodwind group at one point. By mistake.

And there was that time during my senior year in Ireland when Sister Catherine mistakenly thought I should be in the choir. The very good, very competitive choir. Because someone told her I was in marching band back in the states.

That may have been me. I may have been the one to tell her that.

So she assumed I had some musical abilities.

Until she made me sing for her.

“Maybe you just move your lips, but don’t make sound…”

Except, the songs they were singing were mostly in Gaelic. So I couldn’t even move my lips right.

So they sent me to keyboarding class. Where I dominated.

The Irish got nothing on American-sitting-in-front-of-a-computer-all-day-being-unproductive-but-typing-hella-fast skills.

But last night. So, yeah.

My favorite librarian coaches our school’s Forensics Team. And needed some people to help judge at their first competition last night.

And I used to work in Criminal Justice. And I don’t like to not be included in things. So obviously I offered myself up.

I can totally judge students’ abilities to analyze evidence and interrogate witnesses.

I’m pretty sure I can even assess proper autopsy and fingerprint dusting techniques.


Ok, so I may have been emotionally unprepared for what actually happened.

There were no dead bodies.

Which, I mean, that’s good. It’s good that there were no actual autopsies being performed.

I’m not actually qualified to judge that.

But do you know what VHSL Forensics Teams actually do?

Like, poetry. And original oration. And freaking Dramatic Interpretation.

And I don’t know if judges are supposed to remain impassive during these performances.

But when a child. A near-adult. A high school student at what is likely the most vulnerable age she will ever experience. Is standing in front of you belting out tears and devastation knowing that you are there specifically to judge her?


So, yeah. I cried. I cried because I appreciate that level of bravery. Because seriously. And I cried because I wish I had done anything even close to this in high school. Dramatic Interpretation? What better outlet for my obnoxiously attention-seeking tendencies? And I cried because there wasn’t a single obnoxious thing about these students. They. Were. Impressive. All manners of impressive.

I’ve spent most of my career working with adolescent populations that struggle just to maintain on a daily basis. They spend more time in front of a judge than they ever will in front of a classroom. That can start to steal your hope for the future.

I mean, those kids are brave in a whole different way. But honestly. Most of them just don’t have the resources and support they need to make it. And so most of them won’t. And that is crushing.

But these kids, y’all.

They’re going to make it all ok. If, as several of them pointed out during their Original Oratories, we don’t burn the planet to the ground first.


Also. I don’t know this teacher. But I need this in my office.

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