Syosset Forensics Tops National Rank

Officers of the Syosset High School Forensics Society, which was recently ranked in the top 1 percent nationally, are pictured with adviser Lydia Esslinger. (Photo by Syosset Schools)

The Syosset High School Forensics Society is once again ranked in the National Speech and Debate Association’s top 1 percent of schools nationwide. The honor is based on points and degrees earned in competitive and service-based activities.

“I am proud to say that Syosset Forensics has a consistent national reputation for excellence,” said adviser Lydia Esslinger, whose 2015 team was recognized in the top 20 of 7,935 participating schools nationwide.

Comprised of 175 students and 18 divisions, the society has been one of the most consistently successful co-curricular, interscholastic activity clubs at Syosset High School, with Long Island and New York State championships among their successes. Students participate in competitions to demonstrate their public speaking, acting, debating and writing skills, as well as their knowledge of government and current events. They are constantly researching, seeking out new material to use and practicing to stay sharp.

“I hope to model for students the importance of dedication and the rewards of work, the necessity to handle oneself with dignity and treat others fairly, and to win—and more importantly, to lose—gracefully,” said Esslinger, whose students have accumulated an impressive collection of hardware from the many tournaments held from September through June, some as far west as California. “What I always tell them is that the trophies will end up in a box in your basement, but how you shape yourself into the best you is on display for the rest of your life.”

In the many years she has advised the club, Esslinger has seen some of her more active “Forensicals” go on to achieve great accomplishments in life. Some of the more high-profile alumni of the society include National Security Council Director Prem Kumar, presidential speech writer Jon Lovett, Tony Award-winning singer and actress Idina Menzel, novelist Meg Wolitzer, law professor and foreign policy columnist Rosa Brooks and Florida Panthers owner/CEO and CNBC contributor Doug Cifu.

More than 90 students qualified for the 2015 New York State finals, including state champions Betsy Cohen and Faisal Younus. The society as a team finished in the top two in the state, and there were a large number of finalists at the national level in various categories.

“They learn to be confident about speaking in class,” said Esslinger. “They all read a lot and learn to write better. Most importantly, they all respect the power of words and learn to use the language ethically and effectively.” -Syosset Schools


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