Skyline sophomore wins forensics title

Daniel Kurzenknabe, 15, a sophomore at Skyline High School in Front Royal, recites part of the speech that won him first place in the Virginia High School League's Forensics Group 3A state championship category of prose interpretation. Josette Keelor/Daily

FRONT ROYAL — Skyline High School forensics teacher Richard Follett knew little about forensics before he started coaching.

He started with ninth graders at the former Warren County Junior High School before later moving to Skyline. But even after 17 years of instructing the various forms of public speaking, he said many people still don’t know what forensics is — or that Skyline has a team.

This year, however, they might start to notice.

The school earned its first state champion in forensics at the Virginia High School League State Championship in Forensics on March 28.

“It was a great year for forensics,” he said.

Sophomore Daniel “Dan” Kurzenknabe, 15, won first place among 3A schools in the category of prose interpretation.

Dan’s interpretation of the plot line from the book “Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions,” by Daniel Wallace, told of a down-to-earth son who ignored his father’s tall tales until his father’s death, when he began to realize there was more to his father than he realized.

Prose interpretation is sort of mix of public speaking and acting, Dan said.

“When you do prose, your feet are planted, but it’s all in the way you read it or interpret it,” he said.

Other categories of competition were poetry interpretation, humorous duo, serious duo, humorous interpretation, dramatic interpretation, impromptu speaking, original oratory, extemporaneous speaking and storytelling.

Dan said he considered competing in humorous interpretation until Follett told him he might better fill out the school’s category in prose interpretation.

This was Dan’s first year in forensics, but he’s been acting since elementary school, when, in the fifth grade, he played Kurt in a Skyline production of “The Sound of Music.”

“Dan’s an extremely talented young man,” said Follett, who teaches mythology and theater arts at Skyline. “He’s a hard worker and he’s a coach’s dream.”

Other area state winners:

Rachael Hazlett of Sherando High School in Stephens City — second in 4A for impromptu;

Samantha Sowder of John Handley High School in Winchester — third in 4A for original oratory.

Skyline tied for seventh place with Broadway High, Magna Vista High and Rustburg High in the 3A group team standings.

Sherando tied for fourth place in the 4A group with Woodgrove High School in Purcellville and Midlothian High School.

Handley tied for seventh with Glen Allen, Tabb and Grafton High School.

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com