Death, by whatever grisly or ghastly form in which it reaps, does not strike mortal fear into the hearts of man more so than speaking in front of a crowd. But if fear is to be measured by the amount of bling one places upon their shelf, then the Yuba College Speech Team is not afraid of anything; their competition least of all worries.
“They’ve won buckets of awards,” says Suzanne Ruckle, Professor of Communication Studies and Director of Forensics.
Instructing speech students in the art of oral presentation aside, Ruckle serves as the team’s coach. Students enrolled in her Speech 4R class make up the members of Yuba College’s speech team.
Students also join the ranks of the Northern California Forensic Association (NCFA) which facilitates intercollegiate tournaments for colleges and universities as far south as Fresno to as far north as the Oregon border. One such tournament is the Spring Fling which takes place every April.
Students compete in two different categories. The first, Pattern A, includes: informative, persuasive, after dinner and impromptu speeches as well as debates and oral interpretation of literature. Pattern B includes: prose, dramatic monologues, poetry, duos, and Parliamentary debating.
Attending these events is costly and the speech team has not had a budget for many years. In order to finance their competitions, the team produces posters, gives the college press releases, sends out mass-emails detailing their activities and Miriam Root, Yuba College’s Public Information Officer, gives a helping hand disseminating the material.
In the future, the speech team will host a fundraising event in the Yuba College theater performing oral interpretations of literature.
Money is one issue, but developing the skills to defeat their opponents is another. “This class teaches students that a speech can be comedic and entertaining but still have a theme of social significance. Judges like to feel like they’ve learned something special,” said Professor Ruckle.
“This is a great class for anyone wanting to improve their public speaking skills in a safe environment,” she added.
Celesta Ramirez took the class for that purpose. She is double majoring in communications and human services. Speech 4R is not a requirement for her degree, but she wanted to include the course to improve her interpersonal communication skills.
Steele Severson, very much an eccentric personality, wants to become an actor. He enrolled in the course to further augment his oratory skills as a multidisciplinary showman, whether he takes to the stage or the screen.
I had the pleasure of watching Page Gearhart and Angelica Belmontes practice their speechcraft. Gearhart readied her stance with an unshakable confidence and delivered an earnest and compassionate performance driven by wisdom as only an experienced student such as she could pull off.
Belmontes performed admirably as well; sweet as bubblegum to charm the crowd, and then tough as nails when she needed to drive deep the motif of her delivery, flourishing like grace under pressure.
Like previous teams, this current group is composed of talented individuals that will bring more trophies to our campus.
Note: This article was featured in the Prospector Winter 2013 Print Edition