NORTH BEND — A new coach is taking over the Forensics Team at North Bend High School.

Don Kirk has been an English teacher for 35 years, five of which has been spent at North Bend High. Never in his career did he think he would end up guiding 25 students in his off hours to better their speech and debate skills.

“There's a group of kids who asked me to do this,” Kirk said. “They were in desperate need of a coach or else the program would not have continued. It's my strength as a teacher to have really good rapport with kids. Their trust for me is essential for teaching and I'm proud that they knew they could come to me.”

Though there isn't a forensics course at the high school, students have the option to sign up for the Forensics Club, something that is not only more academically centered than band or sports but teaches them skills that can be utilized in future careers.

“Being in this club means they can do research on topics they write about in order to participate in debates,” Kirk explained.

Since being approved for the position by the North Bend School District, Kirk has met up with Marshfield High School forensics coach, Kayla Crook. Crook provided him with resources to events and shared her team's 2017/18 schedule as an example.

“I ran what they had with my team and we came up with a similar one,” he said, adding that typically each team participates in a debate event at least once a month depending on funding. “The schedule will end up reflecting what our budget will allow since we have to pay for hotels, entry fees and transportation. Our focus right now is making sure we can attend as many tournaments as possible.”

As far as transportation goes, Kirk is unable to book a bus unless he has more than 30 students. Currently the club's only option to get to events is through a van that holds 14 people.

“That means I'm going to have to be the bad guy sometimes who says not everyone can go but will rotate and be as fair as I can,” he said.

Being able to attend an event once a month is important for students in forensics since they are evaluated as individuals. Though Kirk said the club works well as a team, they each collect personal points from the speeches they write and read before an audience.

“Right now my biggest concern is making sure I have all the logistics down and everyone signed up,” he said. “I'm really excited and honored to be asked to be their coach. They are a strong group of kids and I'm fortunate to be the one who gets to do this.”

The Forensics Club is holding a fundraiser on Friday at the North Bend High School homecoming game, though donations are welcome at any time. To donate, checks can be written out to the North Bend High School Forensics Club and brought to the front desk at 2323 Pacific Street.

Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or by email at jillian.ward@theworldlink.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JE_Wardwriter.

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