NORTHUMBERLAND — Senior Alexa Spaventa is preparing to use the skills she learned participating in forensic competitions to further her career in computer science.

The 18-year-old Northumberland resident will graduate on Friday and prepare to head to the University of Pittsburgh where she will study computer science in the fall.

"I think competing and learning to become a public speaker is important in any career choice," she said. "I think my time with the Shikellamy Forensic department has helped me."

Spaventa recently competed in the national forensic championships in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and that wrapped up her fourth national event in as many years.

She qualified nationally and competed in California, Washington, D.C., Kentucky and Wisconsin throughout her career.

Spaventa thanks her forensic coaches Eric Zeigler, Craig Specht and Ellen Boyer for their part in her success.

"They all have helped me along the way," she said. "Ellen has told me to continue to try new things."

Spaventa competed in the Lincoln-Douglas debate portion of the competition. According to the National Forensic League, The Lincoln-Douglas debate format asks two debaters to argue opposing sides of social and philosophical issues — the topics often examine questions of morality, justice, democracy and other issues. The debates are usually focused on whether certain actions, or state of affairs, are right or wrong.

"This is a hard event and to qualify four straight years is so impressive," Boyer said. "Alexa has been an outstanding competitor and we are so proud of her. She has been a leader for us and she displays such determination to research and prepare for these debates on her own. It has been a pleasure to be a coach of hers for the past four years. It's been an honor. She is an amazing young woman."

Spaventa said she plans on using her skills through her life. "I think that these four years have prepared me to be a more open-minded person."

"I think everyone should give speech and debate a try," she said. "This is one of the most useful skills you can ever learn. To be able to talk with people and formulate ideas is something that can be used in any field a person chooses."