DDF team set to entertain hometown fans

Following a meet at Service High School in Anchorage, the Homer High School Drama, Debate and Forensics Team, DDF for short, is preparing for two hometown events and encouraging the public to come watch, applaud and participate.

This weekend, Jan. 23-24, is a DDF tournament and on Tuesday, Jan. 27, is Random Acts of DDF, an avenue for the team to show what DDF is all about in a family-friendly environment.

This weekend’s meet is held at HHS beginning at 3:30 p.m. Friday and continuing until 9 p.m. It picks up again Saturday at 8 a.m. and continues until the final debate ends at 5:20 p.m., with an awards presentation to follow.

Earlier this school year, Head Coach Amy Johnson put out a call for volunteer judges for the Homer meet.

“We got a good response from the community for judges,” said Johnson. “It’s great to see how the community is willing to donate their time to help support all of these students.” 

Random Acts of DDF is a double-hitter: entertainment and fundraiser.

“Random Acts is basically a live performance for the people of Homer done by the Homer DDF team where we get to show them pieces we’re doing,” said Evan Boyer, a HHS senior who has been involved with the team for all four years of high school. 

It also is an avenue for providing the team some financial support.

“It’s how we fund our bus rides, sometimes food,” said Robert Hockema, also a senior, who has been involved with DDF for three years. “Last year we raised $4,000, the most we’ve ever made. We’re trying to top it this year.”

Random Acts begins at 6:45 p.m. in the Homer High commons, with the performance in Mariner Theatre beginning at 7 p.m. Admission is $5 adults, $3 students and seniors, with tickets available at the door. It also includes a silent auction and one intermission, during which bidding on the silent auction items wraps up. 

“I would love to make $4,500 this year,” said Johnson. “This depends on a lot of community support so we hope that a lot of people will come out and see the students and bid on the silent auction items.”

The variety of items to be bid on are the result of the team’s efforts combined with community generosity.

“We’ve been going around getting donations,” said Lindsay Schneider, a three-year DDF-er. As an example of what to expect, Schneider hinted at one item of fresh scallops or possibly a gift certificate for Alaska seafood.

Without providing  details, senior Patrick Latimer, a team member for four years, recommended bringing some extra cash for a “surprise event” that happens during intermission.

Ask team members why they’re involved in DDF and the ease with which they supply answers reflects their comfort with public speaking.

“I moved back to Homer from Juneau right before freshman year and was kind of out of the loop. I hadn’t lived here in five years. But when I got back, a few people came over to me — Patrick (Latimer) among them — and said hey, you should try out DDF and see what its like,” said Boyer. 

He followed his friends’ suggestion and “over the years, I’ve found my voice and my confidence with DDF. It really makes you certain of who you are as an individual. Trust me.”

This is junior August Kilcher’s first year in DDF, brought to the team “because for two years people have been nagging me over and over again to join.” Now, however, Kilcher said “the incentive for staying is that I absolutely love the people in it. It’s a great atmosphere. It really lets your creative side flow and I love making a fool out of myself.”

Meets throughout the school year and Random Acts of DDF aren’t the only avenues the students have for flexing their drama, debate and forensics muscles.

“The community is so open to DDF. (This) week we’re going to West Homer Elementary School and giving a very short example of what a debate looks like to fifth-graders who are working on a persuasive unit,” said Hockema.

Johnson has been the team’s head coach since 2010 and is assisted by volunteer Kyra Wagoner.

“(Johnson) is knowledgeable and enthusiastic,” said Latimer.

“An efficient organizer,” said Schneider.

“Hideously sarcastic,” said Kilcher. 

“She makes sure people are in a comfortable environment where they can intellectually proper,” said Hockema. “I’m not sure what we would do without her.”

Wagoner got similar praise.

“She’s a vital part of the process,” said Hokema.

“She’s a delight,” said Schneider.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.