Speech/debate team among nation�s best

Friday, April 3, 2009

Speech team stars Katlyn Carson, Casey Schmoll and Benjamin Kaufman

Finalists at the Honorary Pi Kappa Delta National Tournament and Convention March 19-21 in Shreveport, La. From left are Katlyn Carson, Cottage Grove, Minn.; Casey Schmoll, St. Cloud, Minn.; and Benjamin Kaufman, Sauk Rapids, Minn.


ST. CLOUD, Minn. - The St. Cloud State University Speech and Debate (Forensics) Team traveled more than 2,300 miles to finish 14th out of 63 teams from across the country at the Honorary Pi Kappa Delta National Tournament and Convention in Shreveport, La., March 19-21. 

In addition, three St. Cloud State students advanced to the Final Showcase Rounds, finishing at the top of their respective events.

The voices of more than 550 participants and 63 colleges and universities performed at the national tournament, which featured competition in 15 individual events and four types of debate. 

"I’m proud to work with this talented group of students!" said Denée Janda, assistant professor of communication studies and assistant director of St. Cloud State Forensics, after the tournament.  Scott Wells, associate professor of communication studies and forensics director, exclaimed, "It was an absolutely impressive performance.  With a young squad and the entire team returning next year, we are primed for success over the next few years!"

The three St. Cloud State students who advanced to the final showcase rounds, which are reserved for four of the top contestants in each event, were sophomore Casey Schmoll (St. Cloud, Minn.), dramatic interpretation, freshman Benjamin Kaufman (Sauk Rapids, Minn.), program of oral interpretation, and senior Katlyn Carson (Cottage Grove, Minn.), after dinner speaking (a speech to entertain).

In addition, in accordance with the organization’s mission for positive competition, superior (top 10%) and excellent (top 20%) awards were given to the top students in each event.  Students recognized for their performances were:

Schmoll received a superior award in dramatic interpretation and prose interpretation, as well as an excellent award in informative speaking.

Kaufman received a superior award in program of oral interpretation and excellent awards in dramatic interpretation and poetry interpretation.  During the same event, Kaufman was selected from six nominees to serve a two-year term as the Student Representative at Large to the Pi Kappa Delta Forensics National Council.  As student representative he will attend several meetings a year to help govern the organization and to plan future Pi Kappa Delta tournaments and conventions.

Carson received a superior award in after dinner speaking and an excellent award in poetry interpretation.

Senior Andrea Lovoll (Northfield, Minn.) received excellent awards in impromptu speaking and program of oral interpretation.  She also competed in after dinner speaking, persuasive speaking, communication analysis and parliamentary debate with junior Paul Berkesch (Spooner, Wis.).

Junior Onome Egi (St. Paul, Minn.) received an excellent award in persuasive speaking.   Egi also competed in extemporaneous speaking, impromptu speaking and parliamentary debate with freshman Thomas Opatz (Cambridge, Minn.).

Opatz received an excellent award in prose interpretation.  He also competed with Egi in dramatic interpretation, poetry interpretation and parliamentary debate.

As part of the weekend, panel discussions and workshops were offered on forensics education, communication studies and journalism.  In addition, several students were recognized for their academic achievements, community service and leadership at the tournament’s closing banquet.

Pi Kappa Delta, which sponsored the first national forensic tournament in 1914, today has active chapters on more than 210 college campuses.  The focus of the organization is positive competition, community service, leadership, scholarship and camaraderie. 

Participation in forensics teaches students important critical skills, including public speaking, interpretive analysis, research methods, organizational, leadership, group work, intercultural, and critical thinking. The activity is open to any St. Cloud State student in good standing.  The speech and debate team is coached by Wells, Denée Janda and Paul Janda.

The forensics team is one of nearly 200 student organizations at St. Cloud State that give students’ leadership, management, and volunteer service/learning opportunities and which foster an active campus community.
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Contact: Denée Janda,, 320-308-5279

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