The East Troy High School forensics team celebrates its third-place, quality-point finish at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Pictured front from left are: Courtney Johnson, Kelli Larsen, Allison Mengel, Sophia Weber, Amaya Bisabarros-Hudoc, (back row) Heather Ruszkiewicz, Maddie Peters, Nick Schmieden, Paige Weimer, Jared Paullin, Ben Labecki, Allyson Gebauer and Claudia Felske.

New forensics club at high school has successful year

By Tracy Ouellette

SLN Staff

When East Troy High School restarted its forensics program in fall, it was because several community members stepped up to assist with the coaching and administration of the club.

“Claudia (Felske) and I had been tossing ideas around for a couple of years about how the Off the Square Players could help out and we put a call out for voices that wanted to be heard and the voices Claudia was hearing were shouting for forensics,” Chuck Dimick said.

Felske, an English teacher at the high school, said there was an unmet need forensics at the school after the program was shut down about a year earlier.

“Everyone I talked to had forensics experience in their past and was asking why this wasn’t happening in East Troy,” she said. “When I explained the problems – budget challenges, lack of coaches and basic needs like transportation to meets – this group said they could help with all that.”

So, Felske went to High School Principal Stacey Kuehn and spoke to her about reinstating the forensics program.

“Stacey was really supportive so our next step was to talk to Kathy Zwirgzdas to ask if the School District could provide buses for the meets,” Felske said. “I asked if we got a group of volunteer coaches together could you cover us for transportation and maybe registration.”

The School District was on board with re-instating the program and providing transportation.

“They were really supportive,” Felske said. “Then we had a meeting for the kids and quite a few showed up and it was pretty obvious there was still interest.”

Ten volunteer coaches stepped up to work with the high schoolers. They are: Dimick, Claudia Felske, Mike Felske, Connie Gehl, Jody Pogorzelski, Sara Rubel, Lloyd Sineni, Randy Timms, Robert Trader and Rodger Trader. With 17 students participating in the program this year, the large number of coaches meant the kids got a lot of individual attention.

“This year, for the first time, each group was assigned a coach,” junior Allison Mengle said. “This helped the growth of my skit very much, and helped lead us to a perfect score at state.”

“This forensics season was so much fun, and I can’t believe how much I improved. I really do think that everyone should be in forensics because of how beneficial it is,” junior Paige Weimer added.

The East Troy Education Foundation also provided support for the program this year by funding a grant, which purchased scripts and supplies for the season.

Felske said the students had a very successful season and she and all the coaches were proud of how hard the kids worked and their accomplishments.

“At state we got eight Golds, six Silvers and a Bronze,” she said. “And at the UW-W forensics meet we took third in quality point and took home a medal for that, it was very exciting, it’s a big meet.”

Looking into next year, Dimick said they have had three more people approach the Off the Square Players about being coaches, which is good, since next year might see a large increase in students and the program will be available at registration in summer and is an official extra curricular activity again.

“We started in November this last fall, so we think the earlier start will draw more students,” Felske said.

Any students considering signing up for next year only have to talk to one of their classmates who was in the club this year to see how much they learned from the experience.

“It was something I always looked forward to. There was always a positive atmosphere; I was surrounded by great people. In forensics, I was constantly growing, constantly learning, constantly experiencing,” freshman Lexi Olson said.

“Forensics was all around a great experience for me. There isn’t a club like it where everybody is so completely encouraging and really down to help you improve yourself to your fullest extent,” junior Heather Ruszkiewicz said.

For more information on the Off the Square Players or to volunteer with the forensics program, contact Dimick at


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