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Students Speak Of Cheese, Non-Conformists At Forensics Competition

April 25, 1989

EAST ORANGE, N.J. (AP) _ In one minute, Cam Jones had to prepare a speech on poets and cheese. He didn’t fret and at a national forensics competition he delivered a six-minute talk so lyrical that he won in his category.

Jones was one of about 1,000 students from 129 colleges and universities in 35 states who competed in the 19th National Forensic Association Individual Events Tournament. The five-day competition ended Monday with finals in the nine events - after-dinner speaking, prose, poetry, informative, persuasive, rhetorical criticism, impromptu, extemporaneous and dual drama interpretation.

Jones, a Cornell University student, won the impromptu category and the pentathlon award for his scoring in at least five events.

His impromptu speech was on the quote, ″Poets are mysteriously silent about cheese.″

He said that he thought the author, G.K. Chesterson, meant poets have trouble explaining the concrete and mundane aspects of life. Then he disagreed with Chesterson.

A tricky assignment, but one that Jones said will serve him well next year as a law student at Harvard University.

″It’s a really good preparation for law school because it’s the kind of thing that prepares you to interact with people,″ Jones said. ″We have to persuade to win. It’s not enough to just seem impressive.″

An after-dinner speech on the fear of homosexuals helped Jeff Sculley of Bradley University win a national forensics title while teammate Sarah Braun won two events - poetry and dual drama with Jim Farruggio. The Illinois university took home the sweepstakes award for most points accumulated by a school, its fourth such title in six years.

Other winners were Stephanie Kaplan, University of Wisconsin-Madison, rhetorical criticism; Joey Callow, Miami University of Ohio, informative; Robert Andanto, Arizona State, prose; Mike Jakoby, Bradley, extemporaneous; and Betsy Heffernan, University of Wisconsin-Madison, persuasion.

″Despite the pressures on university budgets, forensics is something strong. ... This is a way a university shows off what it does in the classroom,″ said tournament director Christina Reynolds, of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Well-known personalities who have competed in forensics include President Bush, television talk-show host Oprah Winfrey and actress Shelley Long, according to tournament literature.

The audience sitting on folding chairs in the Upsala College gymnasium Monday laughed loudly at the 10-minute, after-dinner speeches of six finalists.

Diana Gering, a senior speech communications major from Mankato State University in Minnesota, said she enjoyed the competition because ″you get a chance to perform.″

The 22-year-old’s after-dinner performance charmed some.

″I represent the non-conformists of the world,″ Ms. Gering told the audience. ″I don’t do lunch. I eat my food, thank you.″

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