Speech Team Provides Opportunity for Students to be a Light

Cedarville University's speech team

Cedarville’s Speech Team has been busy in the past year and has competed in nine tournaments.

by Public Relations

May 3, 2012

Cedarville’s Speech Team has been busy in the past year and has competed in nine tournaments. The highlights include second place finishes at the Ohio Forensics Association Novice State Tournament and second place at the Ohio Forensics association Championship State Tournament in the Presidents Small School Division. The team also finished in fifth place at the National Christian College Forensics Invitational.

Speech competitions take place in three categories: limited preparation, interpretation and public address. Each category has different expectations and plays to the different strengths of the individuals on the team.

The limited preparation category includes two events: extemporaneous speaking and impromptu speaking. In the extemporaneous speaking category, students can be asked any domestic, foreign or economics policy question. The students do not know the question ahead of time. Students then have 30 minutes to prepare a seven-minute speech based on news articles they have gathered prior to the competition. In the speech, the student must provide a good analysis and solution to the question asked.

In the second event, impromptu speaking, competitors are given a quotation and must interpret and analyze it in 90 seconds. Then, they must give a 5 1/2-minute speech on what they have analyzed. Overall, students are judged on the quality of their analysis, fluidity of speaking, overall presentation, thesis and supporting points, among other things.

The second category, interpretation, is unique. The best way I ever heard interpretation events described was ‘competitive acting,’” Breanna Schulenburg, a freshman team member, said. Students compete in prose, poetry, drama, duo or a program of oral interpretation. “The goal of this category is to perform a role to the best of your ability,” she said. Competitors are limited in that no props are allowed. They only have their voice, their facial expressions and their script.

Schulenburg said judging for these events can be subjective and picky. “The goal is to portray a character or characters using voice, eyes, gestures, posture, accents and other modes of communication,” she said. “If the judge feels that you effectively portray the character, then you succeed. This can be very difficult to judge if there are many good speakers.”

The third category is public address. “These events are more what you would typically think of when you think of speech,” Schulenburg said. These events include persuasive, informative, after-dinner and rhetorical criticism speaking. The goal of these events is to accurately portray, persuade, or analyze a specific topic. Judges evaluate competitors on how effectively they are able to state and portray their points and how well they accomplished the goal of their particular type of speaking. “It is important to be articulate, professional and interesting as well as informed and passionate,” Schulenburg said.

Before coming to Cedarville, Schulenburg thought she might take a break from speech competitions. “I competed in speech all four years of high school and I enjoyed the experience immensely,” she said. “Although I had inquired about the team, I was convinced that I needed a year off.”

A few weeks before college started Schulenburg saw a picture of her and her fellow captains from high school after their regional meet where they found out they were going to state competitions. “It was in that moment, looking at my face and all the emotions that I saw there that I realized that I wasn't ready at all to be done with speech.”

Schulenburg wanted to continue to master the art of speech competitions. She knew that Cedarville had a team, and so she frantically contacted Derrick Green, the team coach, in order to find out how to get on the team. Eventually, she made it.

“I view every speech that I give as an offering to God,” Schulenburg said. “I believe that He has given us each passions and one of my greatest passions is words and learning new ways to express them. When I am speaking, I can feel that passion He has given me inside and I desire to share it with whoever is listening.”

Green said first and foremost the team is an opportunity to represent the testimony of Jesus Christ in a challenging environment. “There are very few Christians in the activity, and God has positioned our team to be a light in a very dark place,” he said. “Students will be challenged as they dialogue with other bright and opinionated students from universities all around the country.”

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University attracts 3,300 undergraduate, graduate and online students to more than 100 areas of study. Celebrating 125 years of education excellence, Cedarville is a Christ-centered learning community recognized nationally for rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and leading student satisfaction ratings. Visit the University online at www.cedarville.edu.