Svikhart successfully argued that physician assisted suicide should not be made legal in California. Both finalists, who made it through several rounds of the contest that started in January, found out about the debate topic only minutes before the final competition. “The contest emphasizes mental agility as well as critical thinking and public speaking skills,” says Deborah Dunn, Westmont professor of communication studies.
At the event, sophomore Rebecca Shasberger won first place in the Great Speeches portion of the tournament for her delivery of Ronald Reagan’s 1985 Remarks at the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp. Junior Seth Gruber took second place for his presentation of Charles Spurgeon’s 1864 sermon, “Do You Know Him?” The speeches are chosen by students as exemplars of great speeches — speeches that turned the course of history, transformed a public conversation or changed the course of civilization.