High school speech students shine at Summer Forensics Institute

August 5, 2014

By Savannah Jones ‘15

After spending two weeks with the Bradley University Speech Team at the annual Summer Forensics Institute, one hundred high school speech students gathered at the Michel Student Center Ballroom to recognize its top performers, July 27. Campers from California to Kentucky competed in the mock tournament known as Festival earlier in the day and the day before. Students receiving perfect scores in their three rounds of competition earned scholarship money ranging from $1,000 to $4,000. Underclassmen with perfect scores received a free return trip to SFI next summer while outgoing seniors received a scholarship to compete on the Bradley University Speech Team next year. Three of the students earning scholarships performed at the camp’s closing ceremony, Banquet, for fellow campers, staff and family.

-Megan Magee: Hohnonegah Community High School, Poetry Interpretation, Rockton, Il.

 -Michael Everett: Chaminade College Preparatory, Impromptu Speaking, Newbury Park, Ca.

-Riaz Gillani: Glenbrook South High School, Special Occasion Speaking, Glenview, Il.

Last year Magee and Everett earned scholarships to return to camp, though Magee did not perform at Banquet due to time constraints. Performing at Banquet had been Magee’s goal since her first year at camp in 2012. This year she worked on Poetry Interpretation, a collection of poems built around a central argument.

“Poetry is a very difficult event to put together and I knew the distinguished coaches at Bradley would be able to help me in a way that no else could,” Magee said.

Everett worked with current Bradley University Speech Team President Talan Tyminski on Impromptu Speaking. Competitors in the event are given a quotation with six to seven minutes to prepare and deliver a speech without notes.  Everett is the 2014 National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) Impromptu Champion but was still looking to improve. Tyminksi said Everett wasn’t focused on the competition but “learning and perfecting the event.

Gillani was a first-time SFI camper, though he proved to be anything but a rookie. Over the two weeks, Gillani and Assistant Coach Melendez created a Special Occasion Speech, aimed at persuading a created audience through humor. The event allows him not only to share his love of comedy but also shed light on the problems in society he is passionate about.

“While my coaches did help me actually write my speech and perfect my jokes, they also helped me morally get through the past two weeks. I honestly can't think of other people who have pushed me past my boundaries more than these great people,” Gillani said. “But they also reminded me of the true reason that I do speech; to have the opportunity to speak my mind, and have the luxury that people will listen

Melendez stated the Summer Forensics Institute isn’t only for the campers but also reminds Bradley University Speech Team members why they love this activity and continue to share their passion.

“This is much more about being able to go back to the roots of coaching,” Melendez said. “Let’s take a kid who’s terrified to be in front of a room and make them love giving a speech because it’s a message they want to give.  That’s its own sort of regenerative property.”