Marist High School junior Kelly Collins finished second in the nation at the National Catholic Forensic League Grand Tournament, which was held in Chicago over Memorial Day weekend. Collins competed in qualifying tournaments to advance to the national level, and was also the Chicago Catholic Forensic League Grand Champion.
Collins has been involved with speech and acting since sixth grade, including her first two years at Marist. Speech—or forensics—competitions include a variety of categories that can be individual or duet and span a range of styles. Competitors are judged by a panel of coaches and experts. To prepare, Collins says she meets with her team and coaches two to three days a week and practices on her own.
During the year, Collins competed in dramatic duet acting, but oratorical declamation is what brought her to the top at Nationals. In this category, competitors must memorize a speech and are critiqued on style, delivery, and other factors. Collins memorized Brené Brown's Ted Talk 'Listening to Shame,' which addresses moving past the feelings of shame and helping others do the same, using empathy. Next season, she plans on competing in oratorical declamation and original oratory—where she will get to write her own speech.
Collins encourages other students to get involved with speech and acting because it is personally rewarding, builds new skills, and the team is like a family. “I enjoy competing because performing is challenging,” Collins said. “I love to speak and act, and competitions make class presentations seem like nothing. However, I think that making the connection with the audience is my favorite part.”
Outside of speech team commitments, Collins stays busy. She is a member of Marist’s chorus and theatre guild, and performed in Marist’s Lantern Theatre production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum this summer. She also has participated in the Chicago Teen Improv Festival.