For Immediate Release: April 23, 2016
BLOOMSBURG — The permanent home for the Pennsylvania High School Speech League is moving from Susquehanna University to Bloomsburg University. Harry “Neil” Strine IV, director of BU’s forensics program and chair of the political science department, is the organization’s new executive director.
Approximately 140 public and private high schools are members of the Pennsylvania High School Speech League (PHSSL), Strine said. The organization hosts two statewide competitions each year: the speech competition, which draws about 700 college-bound high school students, parents and coaches, and the drama festival, which features performances by about 64 students from six high schools. PHSSL is made up of 14 districts, and students compete in district tournaments to qualify for the state competitions, he added.
The first event at BU will be the executive board’s semiannual meeting on Thursday, July 14. The drama festival will be held Jan. 6 and 7, 2017, followed by the student speech competition on March 17 and 18, 2017. Members of BU’s forensics team will assist with the tournaments, tabulate results and serve as judges. They also will demonstrate their forensics pieces for the high school competitors, Strine said.
Susquehanna University hosted the PHSSL since 1992 under the leadership of former executive director Larry Augustine, who is retiring as professor of communications and theatre. PHSSL formed in 1961 and originally was hosted by Penn State at the University Park Campus.
Strine has a long history with forensics, starting with student competitions in high school and at BU. With the 2004 retirement of his father, Harry Strine III, communications studies faculty emeritus and BU’s previous director of forensics, Strine was asked to lead BU’s forensics team. He also was appointed as the higher education representative on the PHSSL executive board.
Earlier this month, members of the executive board voted unanimously to accept BU’s offer to become PHSSL’s permanent home and for Strine to serve as executive director.
Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education. The university serves approximately 10,000 students, offering comprehensive programs of study in the colleges of Education, Business, Liberal Arts and Science and Technology.