Public PK-12 School District in Dalton, Georgia

Dalton Public Schools News

DHS Student Wins First in State Literary Competition
Sarah Forberger at state competition

Imagine you’re at a dinner party and a friend suddenly asks you to speak about a current political topic or a hot-button issue. While most of us would not be able to put together a thoughtful, well-researched speech under that type of pressure, Sarah Forberger excels in that environment. 

Recently, Forberger, a junior at Dalton High School, won first place in the state literary competition in the category of domestic extemporaneous speaking. 

For this competition, Forberger was given three broad topics to research ahead of time (this year’s topics were President Joe Biden, Jobs/Economy and COVID-19). On the day of the competition, she was given three more specific speech topics to choose from and 30 minutes to prepare a five to seven-minute speech. Finally, she presented her speech before a panel of judges, who awarded her the first-place prize at both the region and state competitions.

“I love history,” Forberger said. “I’ve always loved it since I was in fourth grade. I was just wildly into it all. This was an event made for me.” 

After coming in second-place in the state competition during her sophomore year, Forberger worked even harder this year to take her speaking to the next level. 

“I just worked harder and kept going,” Forberger said. “I didn’t know anything about this competition prior to last year. I was just thrown into it. But I just kind of found a place and an outlet for me to express myself.” 

Christina Dillard, English teacher at Dalton High School, coached Forberger for this competition. She said watching Forberger’s growth has been extremely rewarding.

“I’ve known Sarah since she was in sixth grade and it has been a pleasure to watch her grow into the amazing speaker she is today,” Dillard said. “Sarah’s dedication to her craft has been an inspiration to her peers, and I feel confident that she will continue to have success in the future. We are all beyond proud of Sarah and know this is only the beginning for her.” 

Forberger’s strategy when competing is to appeal to the judge’s logic and emotion simultaneously. 

“You want to give a good three points and you want to give evidence to back it up,” Forberger said. “But, you also want to be able to reason with your audience and really convince them on the topic, because it is a persuasive political speech. You want to convince them using facts, logic and a little bit of emotion.” 

Forberger credits her long history with theater with putting her over the edge compared to her competitors. She said her strength lies in her ability to be theatrical while still conveying well-researched facts. 

“I’ve done theater for a really long time,” Forberger said. “It’s a balance of being theatrical and also factual, but that balance, I think, is what really can put me over the top compared to others.” 

More importantly, Forberger said she couldn’t have won first place without the support of her current and prior coaches.

“I was super thankful for my coaches, Meredith Anderson and Christina Dillard, and my previous coach, Cindy Wiggins,” Forberger said. “I could not have done it without them.”

As an expert at public speaking, there was only one thing that could leave Forberger completely speechless: winning first place. When she found out she was the first-place winner, she said she was completely blown away.

“I was so excited and I thought, hard work really does pay off,” Forberger said. “I was honestly speechless. I didn’t know what to say. I was overwhelmed with joy.”