Jason Singh describes the hypothetical effects of Hugo Chavez's death on American foreign policy, enunciating each word in a ringing voice, connecting with the audience with a flowing eye contact and animated hand gestures.
Driven by a passion for public speaking, the Green Valley High School senior has been competing in forensics, commonly known as speech and debate, since the eighth grade. But it was not until the end of his freshman year that Singh shifted his focus toward extemporaneous speaking.
Extemporaneous speaking, also known as extemp, is a competition in which speakers choose one topic from three current events. They speak about that topic for seven minutes after being given 30 minutes to prepare.
Singh says he enjoys the unique aspects of extemp, especially the limited preparation and that it intertwines features of a conventional debate event and a speech event.
"A good extemper has to be able to further an argument and maintain etiquette that is applicable to the real world," Singh says. "What makes extemp so unique is that you have to take these complex ideas and broad issues, sometimes about some absurd countries in the middle of nowhere, and scale it down, so your judge, no matter their background or who they are, can understand and comprehend."
Singh presents speeches in front of his parents and his peers on the Green Valley forensics team to practice developing arguments and a clear speaking style.
"There are central ideas you need to bring forward in every speech; there is a specific formula and same principles you should be applying to every speech," Singh says. "Once you figure that out, it is just a matter of perfecting the formula, to do it right every single time."
With his enrollment in the international baccalaureate program and the demanding workload from forensics, Singh says he struggles to manage his activities. Encouragement from his family and the Green Valley forensics team helps him overcome those obstacles.
"I have been really blessed to have a supportive family who has been behind me the whole way and they are very happy with what I do," Singh says. "Also, the Green Valley forensics team has always been there for me and I am really happy to support and represent them wherever I go. It has been a real pleasure."
Singh's sister, Sabrina, a sophomore who is also a member of the Green Valley forensics team, says her brother inspired her to join.
"Because of Jason, when I was first going into forensics, I already knew basic concepts, which made me feel more confident because I knew ahead of time what to look forward to, which gave me more time to prepare," she says. "I have always loved speaking in front of groups, but without Jason, I wouldn't be a ForensiGator right now, or even if I was, the experience wouldn't be as impactful."
Singh's originality is the greatest asset of his speaking style, achieved without attending particular forensics camps or programs.
"A lot of people who go to camp tend toward a specific style, outline or a certain way of speaking, but (when) you are not accustomed to an outline, you are able to set yourself (apart) from every other competitor," Singh says. "I am unique, and I think that is a reason why I have been doing well so far."
Singh won the Wake Forest National Early Bird Tournament, a national circuit tournament Sept. 9 that was hosted by Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C.
He has attained numerous county, state and district titles, and he qualified for the National Forensics League Tournament's Nationals Tournament. Singh competed at the Montgomery Bell Tournament in Nashville, Tenn., to which the nation's top 16 extempers were invited; the University of California, Berkeley Tournament in Berkeley, Calif.; and the Tournament of Champions in Chicago.
Singh will compete at the Blue Key Speech and Debate Tournament in Gainesville, Fla.
By interacting with a variety of people inside and outside the forensics community, Singh has been able to establish close relationships and acquire guidance that could be applied to extemp and life.
"I learned a lot from Reed McGinley-Stempel, who was my debate captain and an extemper I really enjoyed working with," Singh says. "Also, there have been countless examples in which interaction with people and meeting new friends taught me lifelong lessons, in town and out of town, no matter where you are, I really learned a lot from interpersonal connections."
Senior Matthew Dietz, co-captain along with Singh of extemporaneous speaking at Green Valley High School, says Singh's efforts and feedback are valuable contributions to the extemp team.
"Jason is incredibly knowledgeable on a myriad of current events topics, and he has spread his knowledge to the rest of the extemp team," Dietz says. "I feel that we have a few different strengths as extemp captains and our complementary leadership styles have been most beneficial to the team's success this year."
Singh says the lessons and skills acquired from forensics and extemp will be beneficial in many ways.
"Extemp teaches you to maintain a level of preparation needed to perform a task perfectly every single time," he says. "It is just like real life, because whether it'd be a job or a specific task you are given, you have to do that right when you're onstage."