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BC Hosts Forensics Tournament

As the largest academic event held at Berea's Campus, the 2nd annual Berea College "John G. Fee Invitational" Forensics Tournament features 200 competitors from eighteen colleges and universities, as far as Michigan and Florida.

"This year's tournament has grown beyond our expectations,” Communication professor and event organizer Billy Wooten stated in an interview. Sponsored by the college Speech and Debate team and Lambda Pi Eta, the college's Communication honor society, this year’s event, to be held November 19 and 20, provides multiple competition venues. Competitors participate in parliamentary debate, duo acting, after-dinner speaking, dramatic interpretation, prose, poetry, extemporaneous speaking, programmed oral interpretation, and communication analysis, to name a few. Each event entails two preliminary rounds and one award round and draws approximately twenty participants, with our largest event drawing over fifty-five competitors.

Berea's tournament is joined simultaneously by the Curtis Brown Invitational sponsored by Cumberland College. The Curtis Brown is held on Berea's campus and runs concurrently with the John Fee Invitational. This type of organization is called an I.E. Swing, and is commonly done to simplify travel arrangements for the competitors and ensure an abundance of competition opportunities.

Three trophy awards are given to the top colleges in two divisions. In addition to the championship trophy in each division, teams also improve their national rankings. Berea's accreditation from the American Forensics Association, the National Parliamentary Debate Association and the National Forensics Association authorizes point allocations that contribute to a cumulative yearly total. Since these rankings determine acceptance into the national tournament at the end of every debate season, teams take these events seriously.

Individuals also compete for recognition in separate categories titled novice and pentathlon. Pentathlon competitors are required to compete in at least five individual events such as poetry, prose, or impromptu speaking, and often participate in debate as well. Awards are given to the top overall pentathlon participant and in every individual event. Since they are limited only by time constraints, students can enter as many categories as they choose. Consequently, students often take home multiple awards in varying categories.

With Wooten at the helm of the tournament's organization, the Speech and Debate Team planned with tireless effort and meticulous forethought. "Directing a forensics tournament can be stressful, but it is very rewarding for me, my students, and the college as a whole." Wooten added. The result of their effort will be the biggest academic tournament the college has ever seen.

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