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Forensics is defined as competition in speech, debate and dramatic presentation, but it is really about the power of words to influence ideas, uncover higher truth, change minds, and for Tommie Lindsey's students in room 408—change lives. A Teacher with a Bigger Mission
Most of the students who participate in forensics at Logan High School are at-risk or come from troubled homes. Many of their performances are personal and sometimes painful. "A lot of kids have issues going on at home, and they escape those by coming to Forensics," says Tommie. "You'll see that they are hurting but they are not in a situation to know how to express that kind of hurt."
One student says, "Mr. Lindsey is such a father figure to everybody. He just puts out his heart and soul; he cares about his students. Whatever it takes to get a student to where they want to be, he will do it." The Conduct of Champions
Through Tommie's dedication and coaching, students learn to draw on their personal experiences and unlock their potential. Tommie's students have won four state titles and several national championships with cutting edge pieces about street life, race and discrimination. They regularly beat the country's elite schools and most importantly, they beat the odds.
"People are amazed, because these kinds of kids aren't supposed to be in forensics," Tommie says. But he isn't surprised. "I expect them to be champions and to conduct themselves that way, and they respond." An Outstanding Record
Although only 40 percent of students at Logan High School go on to four-year colleges, about 90 percent of Tommie's forensics students do...to universities like Harvard, Yale and Berkeley! That kind of success rate has drawn students like Pierre to the program. He quit the football team when he learned that more Logan Forensics students go to college than football players. Pierre is now a senior and considered to be one of the best high school debaters in the country.
Despite the team's accomplishments, Logan's forensics funding was cut. Tommie often digs into his own wallet to keep his students competing. Tommie says, "I have always had a passion for kids who others believed just couldn't do it."
A former student says, "The effect years down the road is that he creates another powerhouse of a person, who can stand in front of anyone, speak about any subject with confidence." See what's on the James Logan Forensics Team's wish list! For more information, please contact:
James Logan Forensics Team
1800 H Street
Union City, CA 94587
- For more information on Tommie Lindsey and the James Logan Forensics Team, visit www.pbs.org/accidentalhero.