FAIRMONT - For the second year in a row, Fairmont Area High School's forensics and speech team has managed to land in the 100 Club. The feat is only achieved by the top 10 percent of National Forensics League chapters nationwide.
"When students compete, they acquire points based on their participation and the placings they get, and from that they earn degrees," explained Fairmont speech coach Cliff Janke. "We could have someone earn three degrees in a year or just one degree in a year. But your team has to have earned at least 100 degrees to get into the 100 Club."
Forensics members at Fairmont Area compete in 13 different speech events. While speech season runs from November through April, some students already have started working on pieces for the season.
"We're in one of the toughest districts," Janke said. "There are three in Minnesota and we are in the southern district. That means we have Eagan, and they've won prestigious awards in debate and the individual speeches."
There are also bid tournaments, such as the Schwans tournament in Apple Valley.
"This year, we're hosting a meet on the first Saturday of March, and also we will be hosting sub-sections too," Janke said.
Otherwise, the speech team is on the road nearly every weekend from the end of November to spring.
"Because of our size of our district, we are the only one that qualifies three for each event," Janke said. "We have about 50 to 60 students from grades 7 through 12 in speech."
It is this large number of students competing that has brought the team to the 100 Club status.
"We are allowed to enter national competition pending on the number of degrees we earn," Janke said. "At the start we only had four, and last year we had 14 compete. This year, I think we'll see a few more ... (The 100 Club) is a way the National Forensics League honors some of its chapters. It's recognition for work and making a difference. With this, there are expectations when Fairmont goes into a tournament."