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Highland Forensics makes history at Gorlok Gala tournament

Forensics students smile on Zoom

Michael Sherman of Davis, Ill. and Shirley Hounnou of Freeport, Ill. made history for Highland Community College as they debated their way to a tournament championship at the Gorlok Gala tournament on Jan. 31, hosted by Webster University in Webster, MO. The tournament is one of the oldest and prestigious forensics tournaments in the U.S.

“Highland can be proud knowing that they were represented by two incredible students who approach the activity with the right priorities in mind, and I am thrilled that they will now be included in the Gorlok record books as tournament champions,” said Harry Bodell, HCC’s Speech and Debate coach.

Highland made history to have its first tournament on record at the Gorlok Gala, which had more than 60 schools compete in the digital format for competition. Sherman and Hounnou won six out of their seven debate rounds. Sherman also received Fourth Place Individual Parliamentary Debate Speaker in the novice division.

The Gorlok Gala is one of the most challenging forensics tournaments for HCC during speech season competition. HCC students in Forensics have persevered through the digital challenge by having all of their tournaments held online. They have overcome obstacles to achieve success during the fall season of competition and improved with each debate.

“Shirley and I make a good team,” said Sherman. “We balance each other out well and that carried us through some tough rounds against some strong competition. This is my first year of debate ever, but it’s quickly grown into something I enjoy.”

The team is preparing for additional tournaments during the spring semester. Highland students who want to join the Forensics team should email Harry Bodell, Speech Communication Instructor, at

Photo: (Left to right) Michael Sherman and Shirley Hounnou