Bradley Summer Forensic Institute Welcomes High School Competitors

July 27, 2011

The Summer Forensics Institute began on Sunday, July 17 and will run until Saturday, July 30. The camp is designed for high school students who are serious about competitive speech. Students on Bradley's nationally renown Speech Team are there to teach the campers how to transition successfully from high school to university-level competitive forensics.

Each morning of the camp starts with breakfast in the Michel Student Center. The campers then go to the Caterpillar Global Communications Center for a morning lecture, where Michael Chen, Bradley's assistant director of forensics, discusses general issues with the students. The first general lecture consisted of discussion about how the campers are to conduct themselves while living in residence halls.

"Somebody didn't have their door locked last night? Stand up, who was it?" Chen asked.

It was clear that students weren't just learning about speech, but also about what their lives will be like once they go to college.

The first morning's lecture also consisted of five-minute warm-ups, during which campers raucously recited several speech exercises and learned some new ones.

Cecil Blutcher, who will be a junior at Bradley and has already competed in four national tournaments, got the opportunity to demonstrate his skills during the lecture. Blutcher's strength is in performing prose, so he recited a piece called "War Child," about the Suanese Civil War, by Emanuel Jung.

Individual lectures followed, each dedicated to a particular category of competitive speech including Interpretation Performance sessions, Limited Preparation sessions and Oratory sessions.

Chen led the discussion of the Limited Preparation category, teaching students what to do before an impromptu speech in which they only get two minutes to prepare.

"One of the most important things to remember is your AGD -Attention Getting Device," Chen said. "You have to go with your gut reaction."

Chen continued by explaining the general outline of an impromptu speech, teaching campers about linking their speech together and the importance of their explanations. He also taught campers about the concept of S.U.R.E. -be Specific, be Unique, be Relatable, and be Elastic. It was clear that the campers were soaking in the information as they scrambled to take notes.

"You have to be willing to put in a lot of work to get a little bit better," Chen said.

Chen then handed the lecture off to Cate Cosme, a member of Bradley's Speech Team and part of the Limited Prep staff. Cosme taught campers about Unified Analysis, a method of impromptu speech in which ideas come from an original thesis. She also stressed the need for repetition.

"People need to hear your main points again. You have to be able to tie things back together and give opinions -people want to hear things that can be argued," Cosme said.

Once Cosme was done going over examples, the campers rushed off to lunch in the Student Center Cafeteria, eager to be done and get back to exploring their futures in speech.