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Forensic Competitors End Season with a Flourish

The Berea College Speech and Debate team ended its competitive season on a high note as the school hosted the Kentucky Forensics Association State Championship Feb. 16 - 17. Approximately 125 participants competed in debate and individual events. Participating schools were Berea College, Western Kentucky University, University of the Cumberlands, Pikeville College, Transylvania University, Owensboro Community and Technical College, Murray State University and Gateway Community and Technical College.

According to Billy Wooten, faculty adviser, the competition was tough, but Berea students captured more than 13 awards, including a first in small four-year college sweepstakes. “I could not be prouder of my team,” said Wooten. Receiving honors in debates were quarterfinalists Brendan Smith and Levi Bennett; Beth Coleman, third place novice speaker; and Jeremy Wells, sixth place varsity speaker.

Individual awards went to Stephanie Radford for first place in varsity dramatic interpretation and fourth place for varsity poetry; Kate Nolan, first place novice in dramatic interpretation; Jessica Fagan, fifth place varsity poetry; Shauna Sams, sixth place varsity programmed oral interpretation; and Matthew Frederick, sixth place varsity prose interpretation. In individual events, the Berea team placed second in the sweepstakes for their division.

This tournament followed the Transylvania University Invitation, held Jan. 26 - 27. In that contest, seven Berea College team members merited awards including Jeremy Wells and Beth Coleman, debate semifinalists; Ruslan Petrakiev and Sara Timberlake, debate quarterfinalists; Elizabeth Nolan, first place impromptu narrative; Shauna Sams, fifth place programmed oral interpretation; and Stephanie Radford, second place impromptu narrative and poetry, third place prose, fifth place pentathlon and sixth place dramatic interpretation.

Competitors at the state championship were judged in parliamentary debate, extemporaneous speaking, impromptu speaking, persuasion, informative, after dinner speaking, poetry, prose, dramatic interpretation, programmed oral interpretation, communication analysis, prose and duo interpretation.

Even though tournament season is over, work continues. According to Wooten, several on-campus debates are being planned. One approaching in March is sure to bring about interest around the campus community. The topic is “Should Berea College identify itself as a Christian college?” The adviser believes that participating in speech and debate events helps members learn responsibility, teamwork, leadership, research skills and tactics of persuasion. “Above all, however, our team is a family, and we learn how to respect each other and our competition.”

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