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A total of 22 Elmbrook students will take their speaking skills to the next level next month.

A quartet of Brookfield Central High School students will join a contingent of 18 from Brookfield East set to travel south.

The students will be competing in the National Catholic Forensic League Grand National Tournament in Louisville, Kentucky over Memorial Day weekend.

Brookfield East coach Steve Sexton, a retired teacher from Greenfield High School, is in his ninth year as debate coach for the Spartans and second for forensics. Sexton’s squad of speakers will consist of Namitha Alexander, Colin Gray-Hoehn, Rafael Li, Arjun Shreekumar, Suchir Bhatt, Shyam Mani, William Cheng, Billy Huang, Bera Demirbilek, Vivek Srivastava, Ananth Bhat, Jack Holcomb, Aditya Jhaveri, Simran Khunger, Shloka Nambiar, Bella Hynduik, Michelle Lazar and Katrina Li.

Brookfield Central's quartet of qualifiers are Hana Li, Aafreen Sajid, Siddharth Kulkami and Sophie LaRose.

The Lancers will be accompanied to the tournament by two parent-coaches: Vasanti Vyas and Julie LaRose. The Brookfield Central forensics team is coached by Heather Gilvary-Hamad and Kimmarie Rosa during the regular season, which ended with the state competition April 2.

Sexton spoke proudly about his team and students while explaining that forensics and debate experience produce benefits that can last a lifetime.

“You could look at national studies and see that students who participate in forensics and debate learn research skills, public speaking skills and a lot of the types of skills that employers are looking for,” Sexton said. “It actually really prepares them for the workplace after college or even before college.”

Julie LaRose, whose daughter Sophie got her start in forensics in third grade at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Wauwatosa, seconded that assessment.

“Forensics is growing in popularity," LaRose said. "It’s an event that makes really good students even better. It helps them with interviews, it helps them with public speaking and it just provides life skills."

In addition to next month’s NCFL national tournament in Kentucky, a number of Elmbrook students have also qualified for the National Speech and Debate Association National Tournament in Birmingham, Alabama, including Philip Klinker, Bhat, Bhatt, Mani, Alexander and Shreekumar from East and Li and Sajid from Central. The tournament will run from June 18 through 23.

More students have been nominated to attend the Birmingham competition but qualifiers have not yet been named.

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