Spring public speaking contest showcases student talent

Kate Baxendale

The Faye Kircher Public Speaking Contest was held April 16 at the Student Union.

All seven contestants were finalists after participating in a preliminary round that included one student from each of the thirty-one sections of Communication Studies 110. Each finalist received prize money: 1st, 2nd and 3rd place received $200, $100 and $75, respectively. Fourth through 7th place received $25 each.

McGraw-Hill, the publishing company from which UMKC purchases its public speaking textbooks, donates $400 so the contests can be held. In the audience were hundreds of students from various sections of the communications course.

Dr. Linda Kurz, assistant teaching professor and undergraduate advisor, has organized the speech contest every year since 1997. Kurz is also the director of Speech 110.

“Since I have been the director of Speech 110, I thought it would be a good idea to have a speech contest,” she said. “It started with about five sections of the course and now it has grown to 31.” Since the growth of the Speech 110 program in recent years, two contests are held: one in the fall and one in the spring.

Master of Ceremonies Professor Michael Schaefer looked sharp in a classic black tuxedo. At 7 p.m., Blake Bixler took the stage.

He spoke professionally about incorporating the Star Wars saga into the American education system. During each two-minute interlude between speakers, a solo cellist played melodies appropriate for the occasion.

Next on stage was Shadae Carr, who spoke passionately about the evils of capital punishment. Alex Chang, whose speech was entitled “The Un-Social Network,” explained why social networks like Twitter and Facebook are sabotaging face-to-face relationships.

Chang was followed by Lena Samford, whose topic was “The Effects of Sleep Deprivation.” Haleigh Sternickle was next; her speech explained the negative aspects of online dating. Marie Whelan delivered a speech persuading her audience to agree on public smoking bans. Bethany Woodson concluded the evening with a speech about tuition hikes in education.

The judges, including News Anchor Cynthia Newsome of KSHB-TV, tallied the scores. Schaefer announced Alex Chang the 1st place winner. He told the story of a young man who decided to log off social networking sites for a period of time in an effort to improve his direct social interactions with people.

When asked how he got the idea for his speech topic, Chang replied, “I read a news story on Yahoo! about the young man I talked about in my speech and I believed in the idea.”

Chang proved his speech experience with his expert delivery tactics and natural ability to impact an audience.

“I participated in Future Business Leaders of America for several years and I was also a member of the debate team,” he said.

The spring public speaking contest was dedicated in memory of two important figures in the UMKC community. Faye Kircher, for whom the contest was named, was a Professor of Communication Studies.

She served as the Director of the Speech 110 program until her retirement. Kircher received the Outstanding Teach of the Year Award from UMKC in 1990. The prize money is funded by a generous endowment from friends and family of Kircher. It has ensured that the contest will continue for many years to come. The contest was also held in loving memory of Dr. Carol Koehler, who passed away in December. Koehler most recently served as an associate professor Chair of the Communication Studies Department.

A commemorative bench inscribed with her name l will be officially unveiled on April 27 outside Haag Hall.

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