Eloquent Speakers

National champion, Kaybee Brown, coaches Ariana Beattie with her dramatic interpretation

Additional images

August 1, 2013

By Savannah Jones, ‘14

After two weeks of running, researching, creating, and performing speeches, Bradley’s Summer Forensics Institute (SFI) campers and their parents were rewarded with the closing banquet. Five campers were recognized during the ceremonies, with three of them showcasing the events they worked on with the University’s speech team.

Megan Magee, a junior from Hononegah Community High School in Rockton, Ill., presented a poetry program focused on the idea of carrying home with you wherever you go. “My goal coming to camp was to do my best. To know that the best collegiate forensic team in the nation thought that my best was good enough for the banquet meant the world to me,” Magee said.

Freeport High School senior Jeffrey Manus performed his dramatic interpretation of the book The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore. He portrayed a monkey that learns to speak and take on human characteristics. Ultimately, the character is torn between his life as an animal and his life as a human. “It was one of the most nerve-racking performances I'd ever given. While working so hard for those two weeks hoping to be in the running for that position, I hadn't really put much thought into if it actually happened. It was quite surreal,” Manus said.

Bradley speech team alum Scott Pyle ’05 coached Manus and was impressed with his work ethic. Manus said he chose the piece because it “scared” him and was a challenge.

Nequa Valley High School senior Saurav Patnaik performed or “banqueted” for the second consecutive year with his informative speech about the civil service Rolling Jubilee, which pays strangers’ debts from collection agencies. “Banqueting for the second year in a row was humbling. I was blessed to have received six banquet nominations from all six of my judges. At the end of the day, it showed me that hard work and perseverance will yield positive results,” Patnaik said, adding that “Banqueting was one of the best moments of my life, hands down. It was a beautiful opportunity to speak in front of my friends, teammates and mentors. I'm going to remember that feeling for a long time.”

While the other performers prepared their speeches beforehand, Michael Everett, a junior at Chaminade College Prep, was given a quotation with two minutes to prepare a six-minute speech. This year was his second at camp for the event impromptu speaking; he previously attended SKI camp from Canoga Park, Calif.

Everett’s SFI coach and Bradley alum Becky Suhr ’11 noted he improved this year by “adopting a new style, being open to trying new things, and realizing it’s about communication — not just being smart.”

“I’m incredibly proud of him and how much he has grown over the past year and even the past two weeks,” Suhr said.

Ken Young, director of forensics at Bradley, was pleasantly surprised by the talent at SFI this year and said this was the most talented group he’s seen in his past eleven years coaching the camp.

Justin Helmley, assistant director of forensics, said the ending banquet is his favorite part of SFI. “Camp can be a tough experience for many, but seeing peers, parents, and coaches in awe of what the students have created is a really special experience. It’s amazing to witness their excitement for the upcoming year and their eagerness to come back and do it all again next year.”

Campers embraced each other and their coaches with tears in their eyes and promises of staying in touch after the banquet ended. They all left knowing they had found a speech home away from home.

“No matter where their futures take them, they will always be part of the Bradley family,” Young said.