Forensic Speech Team tackles important topics as it begins national competition
The Liberty University Forensic Speech Team is hoping to shed light on mental health issues as it performs its Readers Theatre piece this week at Kansas Wesleyan University for the National Christian College Forensics Invitational.
“This piece talks about the ripple effect of mental illness and suicide,” senior Rebekah Sharpe said. “We have the opportunity to talk about how it can impact the family when a parent struggles with depression and suicidal tendencies, but most importantly we use our platform to share a story about the road to healing after trauma.”
Four team members (Sharpe, Evan Young, Lily Mathes, and Kay Wills) are competing in 11 categories — Dramatic Interpretation, Interpretation of Poetry, Prose Interpretation, Program Oral Interpretation, Interpretation of Faith Literature, Informative Speaking, Persuasive Speaking, After Dinner Speaking, International Public Debate, Impromptu Speaking, Extemporaneous Speaking, and Readers Theatre — at the NCCFI, which started today and runs through Saturday.
The team offers a unique developmental experience for students, allowing them to not only grow as emerging professionals but also raise awareness about important issues facing our society. Students are encouraged to identify their passions and speak up about them through the various forms of speech.
“What is super awesome is the voice that the team and the university give to us as students,” junior Peter Lundrigan said. “I’ve been given a platform to tackle issues that never would have been possible if not for forensics. This group means so much to me and is a wonderful opportunity for any student.”
Later this month, Lundrigan will become Liberty’s first representative at the Pi Kappa Delta Nationals, one of the largest speech and debate tournaments in the country, March 20-24 at Hofstra University.
“It is a whole new world,” Lundrigan said of PKD Nationals. “I get to be a representative for the team, the school, and the Gospel, and that is really exciting.”
Lundrigan will compete in six categories: Impromptu, Informative Speaking, Program Oral Interpretation, Extemporaneous, International Public Debate, and After Dinner Speaking.
The team has enjoyed success this season, racking up 84 individual awards and six team awards — with 16 first-place honors — as it competed in national forensics circuits, including the Collegiate Forensic Association and the American Forensic Association.
“We’re blessed to have students in our program performing at this level, and I congratulate them on this tremendous accomplishment for themselves, the team, the School of Communication & Digital Content, and the university,” said Denise Thomas, Forensic Speech Team coordinator.
In addition to traveling to a number of tournaments throughout the academic year, the team also takes time to engage the community, performing for area veterans and for students on campus and hosting open mic nights and “fishbowl” tournaments, where participants draw argument topics from a bowl.
“This team has become like a family to me,” Sharpe said. “We have family dinners every Tuesday night after meetings, and it has helped us grow very close. We have each other’s backs, and that has fostered an incredibly close community on the team. Mrs. Thomas is amazing when it comes to creating opportunities. She loves this team like family, and she makes new people feel very welcome right from the beginning. She has this way of seeing the potential in each person that walks through the door.”
The team will showcase its favorite pieces for the Liberty community during its Spring Showcase event at 7 p.m. on April 12 in DeMoss Hall.