The Steamboat Springs High School forensics team traveled to Fort Collins in March where Paula Ninger, pictured, and teammate Ashley Lopez qualified for nationals June 15 to 20 in Las Vegas.

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The Steamboat Springs High School forensics team traveled to Fort Collins in March where Paula Ninger, pictured, and teammate Ashley Lopez qualified for nationals June 15 to 20 in Las Vegas.

Two students reach forensics nationals

Lopez, Ninger qualify for Las Vegas competition

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— A pair of veterans from the Steamboat Springs High School forensics team will take their oratory talents to the National Forensic League's national competition in June.

Senior Ashley Lopez, the Rocky Mountain region's first-place qualifier in foreign extemporaneous speaking, will make her fourth trip to nationals, coach Lisa Ruff said.

"In extemporaneous speaking, the students walk into a room, and they draw a topic on foreign affairs," Ruff said. "The topics range from current events in Darfur, to Malaysia or Nigeria.

"She's judged not only on how well she speaks and how well she organizes her thoughts, but what sources she brings into it," Ruff said of Lopez. "She has to constantly research what's going on in the world."

Lopez and three other Steamboat Springs High School students traveled to Fort Collins last month, where they competed in the national qualifier for the National Forensic League's 2008 Desert Lights Nationals, to be held June 15 to 20 in Las Vegas.

"It was pretty intense. I had to do six rounds total, and it's double elimination," sophomore Paula Ninger said of the qualifying event.

"I lost my voice before finals. I was ridiculously hoarse, but I guess it turned out for the best," Ninger said.

Ninger competed in the humorous interpretation of literature competition, where she prepared a 10-minute speech with multiple characters from the Ken Bradbury play "Going Up."

"They have to have characters and vocalizations and bring physical traits of the characters into it. And it certainly has to be funny," Ruff said.

Ninger is in her second year competing with the forensics team, whose competitive season began Oct. 3, 2007.

"I mainly did humor last year, as well, but I also did original oratory, where you write your own script about something you want to change about the world. I also did duo interpretation, which is kind of like humor but with two people," Ninger said.

Ninger will serve as the second alternate in the national humor competition in June and is excited to bring her experiences back for two more years with the Steamboat Springs High School forensics team.

"Even being an alternate, you learn a lot from watching other people," Ninger said.

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