NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College continued its tradition of devoting one spring convocation each year to the talents of forensics students, in honor of an even longer one – sending successful teams to the major national forensics and debate competition.
As academic dean Brad Born introduced the April 13 convocation, he noted that forensics coach John McCabe-Juhnke, professor of communication arts, was a member of the first team Bethel sent to the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament (AFA-NIET) in 1978. That was the tournament’s first year and Bethel is one of only six schools in the nation that has qualified a team every year since then.
This year’s AFA-NIET was hosted by Mankato (Minn.) State University, April 5-9. McCabe-Juhnke and assistant coach Brian Stucky took seven student qualifiers in seven different events: after dinner speaking, duo interpretation, extemporaneous speaking, impromptu speaking, informative speaking, poetry interpretation and programmed oral interpretation.
Those competing were Robert Weaver, senior from Wichita; Matthew N. Stucky, freshman from Moundridge; Justin Shook, senior from Lyons; Shannon Carey, junior from Moundridge; Jonathan Nathan, junior from Moundridge; Lewis Kosjer, freshman from Douglass; and Joshua Powell, freshman from Basehor.
Also part of Bethel College’s 2006-07 forensics and debate squads were Cory Buchta, junior from Newton; Dana Daugharthy, freshman from Iola; Alan Harpool, sophomore from Sedgwick; Jamie Lugo, junior from Wichita; Ashley McDonald, sophomore from Douglass; Peter Miller, senior from Partridge; and Becky Schulz, sophomore from Newton.
At the April 13 convocation, Weaver performed his poetry interpretation, drawing on the work of several Mennonite poets. Carey and Shook gave their after dinner speeches, on prevention of testicular cancer and on the importance of exercise for teenagers and young adults, respectively. Kosjer and Powell did their duo interpretation piece, a humorous look at communication and miscommunication.
Nathan and Stucky served as convocation emcees. Both competed at AFA-NIET in extemporaneous speaking, with Stucky advancing to quarter-finals and finishing 16th in the nation.
Stucky also competed in impromptu speaking and informative speaking. Weaver competed in extemporaneous speaking, impromptu speaking and programmed oral interpretation in addition to poetry interpretation. Shook competed in extemporaneous speaking as well as after dinner speaking.
“The AFA-NIET is the most prestigious individual events national tournament because it has the most rigid standards for qualification,” Born further noted in his introduction. “Since the AFA does not have separate divisions based on school size, Bethel competes with universities of all sizes, including Division 1 schools.
“In fact,” Born continued, “this year Bethel outranked Texas Tech and [the University of Oklahoma] in team sweepstakes, placing 32nd in the nation. If you narrow the field a bit, that means we placed fourth in District III, the five-state region in which we compete; second among Kansas schools, trailing only Kansas State University; and are the top Mennonite school in the nation.”
Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and has been named a Top Tier college by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1998. For more information, see the Bethel web site at www.bethelks.edu.