Three Dodge City High School forensics students have qualified for the National Speech and Debate Association National Tournament.


According to DCHS forensics coach Johnny Dunlap, Arden Ingram, senior, qualified in Program of Oral Interpretation; Kylee Smith, senior, qualified in Dramatic Interpretation; and Gage Banks, sophomore, qualified in Program of Oral Interpretation.


With COVID-19 pandemic forcing schools and activities to shut down for the 2019-2020 school year, the national tournament will be held online with students needing to use software to record a single performance to be used for the tournament rounds in June.


"I could not be prouder of them and their hard work," Dunlap said of his students. "I am especially glad our two seniors get to compete this year. While it is unfortunate the students had much of their season canceled abruptly, and they will not get to compete in a state championship, the National Tournament is the big dance.


"In addition, this trio also qualified for the National Individual Event Tournament of Champions (NIETOC), but it, like most events, was canceled this year, making the virtual NSDA tournament extra special and important.


"The criteria for qualification, like everything right now, was unusual. Normally, the students would compete in a single tournament to qualify, but Kansas high school rules do not normally allow virtual tournaments, and in-person was, of course, not possible, so the coaches filled out an application for every student they felt deserved to compete nationally, representing their district (West Kansas) in the National Tournament."


A panel of non-district judges evaluated each application without student identifying information leading them to base their decisions on past student performances in tournaments, accolades, points earned in past seasons, and consistency in success throughout the first half of this season and throughout their high school career, Dunlap added.


"This is another indicator that our program is still growing and improving," Dunlap said. "Even though the world has stopped, DCHS students still do great things."


To contact the writer, email vmarshall@dodgeglobe.com.