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STLCC-Wildwood's forensic and debate team impresses judges at first tournament

January 25, 2010

St. Louis Community College – Wildwood’s Forensic and Debate Team recently competed in their first tournament since the team formed this fall. The newly established program offers on-campus and competitive off-campus opportunities in debate, public speaking, and literary performance events. Team members Patrick Eberle, Jarrod Rogol, Kenny Freeman and Schaefer Griffin were the only community college students in the Study Break Tournament hosted at Webster University in December. Over 30 teams consisting of students from Baptist Bible College, McKendree University, Ottowa University and Webster University also competed. Patrick Eberle and Kenny Freeman garnered Top Speaker awards. Kenny Freeman and Jarrod Rogol won 10th place in Parliamentary Debate.

Melissa Joy Benton-Hopper, STLCC faculty advisor and team coach, felt that it was important to give students at the Wildwood campus an opportunity to participate in debate tournaments. Along with providing a forum to increase communication skills that are vital to today’s workforce, Hopper also believes, “Forensics and debate activities offer students the opportunity to identify their own personal values and learn from, as well as grow respect for, the values of others. In forensics and debate, forming and expressing your own opinions are as important as listening and respecting the opinions of others.” There are no try-outs for the program, just an expectation that students will work hard, adhere to program policies, and commit themselves to pursuing their own performance goals within a team-centered program. Benton-Hopper was awarded Top Critic at the Study Break Tournament.

The team plans to participate in several tournaments this spring including the Gorlock Gala Invitational and the Missouri Association of Forensic Activities State Tournament, both at Webster University. They will also be visiting Halls Ferry Elementary School in Florissant as a service opportunity to introduce elementary students to the debate forum. For more information about the program, contact Melissa Joy Benton-Hopper inat 314-324-7194 or mbenton11@stlcc.edu.

Established in 1962, St. Louis Community College is the largest community college district in Missouri and one of the largest in the United States.  STLCC has four campuses – Florissant Valley, Forest Park, Meramec and Wildwood – and annually serves more than 100,000 students through credit courses, continuing education and workforce development programs. For more information about STLCC, visit www.stlcc.edu.