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Highland Forensic Team on a Record-Setting Pace to Nationals
3/31/2010

FREEPORT On March 20, 2010, Highland Community Colleges Forensic Team attended the Phi Rho Pi Region Four Regional Tournament held in McHenry. The duo of Mitch Berning from Galena and Jason Kauffman of Forreston set a Regional record in parliamentary debate by winning all seven ballots. This has never happened before at a Regional Tournament. Jim Yeager, HCC Speech Instructor and Forensic Coach explained, There are four preliminary debates each with its own judge and one final debate with three judges. Mitch and Jason won each judges ballot. It was simply incredible.

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Seated: Mitch Berning (left) and Advisor Jim Yeager (right). Standing: Paul Johnson (left) and Jason Kauffman (right)

Parliamentary debate consists of logic-based arguments and is loosely based on the style of British Parliament. At the start of each round, teams are given three resolutions to debate. Through process of elimination, its narrowed down to one. Teams are allowed 15 minutes to prepare their argument and may use a dictionary or almanac (although the Highland duo is quick to point out they never consult either resource). The government team presents, while the opposition provides rebuttal. Kauffman stated, The resolutions are usually pretty vague, so we tend to take some liberties. With a laugh, he continued, We look forward to taking the arguments and spinning them on our competition.

Also at the Regional, Berning won a silver medal in Impromptu Speaking and Paul Johnson of Pearl City won a silver medal in Dramatic Interpretation. Kauffman also represented Highland with honor, as he was the second-place vote getter for the Donald Haggerty Fellowship Award, especially significant for HCC as Haggerty was one of the first Directors of Forensics at Highland. The Haggerty Fellowship Award is an award voted on by the Regional competitors for the individual they feel best embodies the spirit of Forensics (kindness, scholarship, and competition).

My heart sank, and then it got so big. I was very honored to be considered and yet the second place vote getter for the Haggerty Fellowship Award, Kaufmann explained. It was really the 7-0 that felt good. I just want to keep it rolling to Nationals.

The effort extended by Kauffman, Berning, and Johnson lead to Highland winning the Gold Medal in Debate Sweepstakes (total debate points), and a Bronze Medal in Overall Sweepstakes (total debate and individual events points). Yeager added, I am exceedingly proud of the effort these three have put in all year, and am ecstatic at seeing their hard work pay off in such a meaningful way.

Yeager added, Illinois is very competitive at the state level. Illinois State and Bradley University have two of the top five programs in the country. This drives up the competition level significantly. For them to break through at the state level is very good; for them to place and qualify for nationals is an amazing achievement.

The experience has well prepared the duo. Berning plans to transfer to North Central College and eventually, law school. Kauffman is heading to Northern Illinois University to pursue a BA in English. But first, its a trip to New Orleans and Nationals in April.

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