MHS Forensic Team sending two to nationals

The Marshalltown High School Forensic Team has made qualifying for nationals an annual tradition. This year, the group will send two students to the national tournament in Birmingham, Alabama, June 16.

Abby Snyder and Ilene Finn, both juniors at MHS, will compete on a national stage after qualifying at the East Iowa District Congress Tournament March 23.

“This is very exciting for our team,” said Dr. Janelle Hawk, Forensic Team coach. “We have qualified someone to the National Tournament every year for the past five years, and this year we have two people who will be representing us on the national level.”

This will be Finn’s first trip to nationals, while Snyder has qualified three times in a row.

“It is rare for a student to qualify as a freshman, and Abby has proven herself as a great speaker by qualifying not only as a freshman, but as a sophomore and a junior as well,” Hawk said.

Students who compete in speech and debate learn how to research, organize ideas, and present information in a logical and persuasive manner. They become comfortable speaking in front of people, and they learn how to speak with passion. Communication is one of the greatest needs in any employee, and the forensic program helps to build those communication skills.

Both Snyder and Finn impressed the judges at the East Iowa District Congress Tournament and deserve to be the East Iowa representatives at nationals.

“This is a big event for us,” states Coach Hawk. “We don’t get as much recognition as the athletic teams do, but we work just as hard if not harder to get to the national tournament. I am hoping that the Marshalltown community will show their support by donating to our team and helping us get to the Birmingham.”

Hawk says donations toward the trip can be sent to MHS, or supporters can donate online at