BLHS grad speaks against negativity
In elementary school, Dan Rundus' classmates and teachers made fun of him.
They thought he was dumb and slow-witted. His stuttering didn't help matters.
He got picked on and called names by other students. He got equal grief from teachers.
The teachers put him in a special- education class because they thought he didn't read or comprehend well.
"They ended up making a big mistake," he said.
The experience gave Rundus, a recent graduate of Basehor-Linwood High School, the fuel he needed to overcome their doubts and work hard to prove them wrong.
Rundus recently made his second straight trip to national competitions in forensics the practice of making a speech or argument in debate.
His first year at nationals, Rundus used a speech based off his elementary school experiences. It was about the negative pitfalls name-calling brings to children.
Rundus urged those who listened to teach their children not to name-call.
"That was the primary point I was trying to get across," he said.
With the building block from last year in place, Rundus began this season with high hopes. He faltered coming out of the gate.
"At the beginning of this season, things were not going well at all," Rundus said.
He leaned on his friend and forensic partner, Travis Stoner, and his mother, Jo, for support.
"I was kind of in a funk," Rundus said. "But somehow, they worked to unravel me."
From that point on, things began to fall into place.
Rundus recovered well enough to qualify for two national forensics tournaments this year.
In May, Rundus went to the National Catholic Forensic Tournament in Pittsburgh, Penn.
He was also invited to the National Forensic League Tournament in Charlotte, N.C.
At this year's tournaments, Rundus was armed with a new speech.
"It was basically about uniting each other and becoming friends with someone you don't know very well," he said. "Everyone needs a friend in this world."
While last year's speech derived from personal experience, this year's came from the experiences of others, he said.
"It wasn't personal, but it was as close as you could get," Rundus said.
The speech spoke about hate and the baggage that often accompanies it.
Although he won't compete in forensics at BLHS anymore, Rundus will continue to make speeches.
He was awarded a full scholarship to Kansas City Kansas Community College to compete in forensics.
From KCKCC, Rundus hopes to join the forensics or debate team at Kansas State.
Someday he would even like to make arguments in front of a jury as a lawyer.
While making the journey from classroom target to competitive orator, Rundus learned a valuable lesson.
"Don't really listen to what other people have to say if it's negative," he said. " Only listen if it has a good meaning."