Forensics team showered with awards


Photos by City of Salem

Officers of the 24153 Club which raised money for championship rings for Forensic Team members, and school officials are: President Rodney Blevins, Vice President Jason Preas and Treasurer Trish Lawson backing up Salem High School Assistant Principal Hunter Routt and Coach Mark Ingerson.
Salem City Council members, Salem School Board members and Salem High School Forensic Team Captains with their coach pose for the official presentation picture in Council Chambers June 8, after congratulations on winning the Virginia Group AA State Championship. From left, they are: School Board Member Artice Ledbetter, Coach Mark Ingerson, Senior Captain Emma Studtmann, Junior Captain Sam Kennedy, Mayor Randy Foley, Junior Captain Alayna Johnson, School Board Member Andy Raines, Council Member Jane Johnson, School Board Member Chairman David Preston and Council Member Jim Chisom.
Salem High School Forensics Team members show off their state championship rings, paid for by the 24153 Club.

Twenty-three Salem High School students who win awards for talking were recognized for their accomplishments by Salem City Council Monday night.

And they didn’t have to say a word. Forensics Team members got copies of the Council and Salem School Board resolutions, photo plaques, key rings, Salem Forensics Champion lapel pins, rings – and cake. The championship rings were paid for by members of the 24153 Club.

Not only were members of this year’s unprecedented “12 for 12” Forensics Team applauded by Salem City Council, but so were those in training to take over the role in future years.

This year’s “post competition” team upped the win to 12 consecutive state championships in 12 years for Group AA.

Salem Mayor Randy Foley congratulated the team, teachers, administrators and families. And Salem Council Member Jim Chisom noted the team “represents the best of Salem High School.”

Team members were previously recognized by the Salem School Board. Coach Mark Ingerson, team captains Emma Studtmann – who won an individual state championship for the second year in a row – Alayna Johnson and Sam Kennedy were joined by three School Board Members and an equal number of Salem Council Members for an official presentation portrait in Council Chambers June 12. The team is also coached by Pam Carter, who was not present.

Emma is senior captain. Sam and Alayna are junior captains. Before the presentations, first the whole group – with their rings – posed for pictures with a giant replica check from the 24153 Club on the lawn of Salem City Hall, then without the check on the steps of Salem Baptist Church across the street from Salem City Hall – the light there was better, Communications Director Mike Stevens explained. Then the seniors, and next, team captains.

Salem 24153 officers posed on Salem City Hall steps, with the replica check for $3,016 made out to Salem High School. The money, raised from donations, paid for the rings.

President Rodney Blevins, Vice President Jason Preas and Treasurer Trish Lawson stood with Ingerson and SHS assistant principal Hunter Routt.

The non-profit 24153 Club is a booster club founded by members of the community to raise funds to support the athletic department of Salem High School. As far as the 24153 Club is concerned, Forensics, Scholastic Bowl and Theater Festival – all Virginia High School League-supported teams – are just as important as football, basketball and other sports.

Membership dues are $20 for families and run from June 1-May 31. The club has a Facebook page and website,

In other actions at the June 12 Salem City Council meeting, wording was clarified for the city’s Performance Agreement with Parkway Brewing Co. and the Economic Development Authority. The brewery, which recently announced a $750,000 expansion, is getting a $150,000 grant from the city through the EDA. If the brewery is sold to one of the major five brewing companies in the nation, the $150,000 would be refunded to the city, City Manager Kevin Boggess explained.

That provision would not hold if a small regional brewery buys Parkway, he noted. Also, Parkway agrees to operate in the City of Salem – it is located on Kesler Mill Road – for at least five years or repay the $150,000.

Parkway also agrees to use the City of Salem logo and name in as many of its graphics as possible, and will begin purchasing 7,000 pounds of Virginia produced products such as grain.

“Parkway may have their money quickly,” Boggess said in the work session before the main meeting.