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Please feel free to visit my blog to read this post as well as some other homeschool related posts.  Thank you for reading!

Ok, so on Saturday I had the opportunity to be a judge at the Inland Northwest Qualifier (3 States were represented) for the National Christian Forensics & Communications Association (NCFCA).  Since both of my kids are very young and I was never involved with debate in my younger years, I was pretty much clueless as to what to expect.  Sure, I took speech in High School and College, and I thought I knew what to expect in that category at least.  Wow, was I mistaken!  The talent of these young adults was very impressive.  The speech categories were the following (definitions from the NCFCA):
Biographical Narrative- An original platform speech that focused on the relevance and/or contributions of a single person’s life.  The following goals could be served by the speech:  informing, inspiring, persuading, entertaining, or teaching among others.  The primary goal of the event is to encourage student recognition of those individuals that have impacted us in profound ways.
Illustrated Oratory- An original platform speech which informs or explains a particular topic with the use of visual aids. (this is the type of speech that I am familiar with)
Persuasive-  An original speech intended to persuade the audience to adopt a particular point of view or course of action.  (this is also the type of speech that I am familiar with)
Apologetics-  A limited preparation event in which the speaker is given four minutes to prepare a six-minute speech on a topic related to defending his/her faith.
Extemporaneous Speaking-  A limited preparation event where the speaker is given thirty minutes to prepare a five-minute speech on a current event topic.
Impromptu Speaking-  A limited preparation speech in which the speaker is given two minutes to prepare a five-minute speech on a randomly drawn topic.
Duo Interpretation-  Speeches creatively explore and develop the intellectual, emotional and artistic embodiment of a single piece of literature for dual performance.
Humorous Interpretation-Speeches creatively explore and develop the intellectual, emotional, and artistic embodiment of a single piece of humorous literature for performance.
Open Interpretation-  Speeches creatively explore and develop the intellectual, emotional, and artistic embodiment of a single piece of literature for performance.
Original Interpretation-  Speeches creatively explore and develop the intellectual, emotional and artistic embodiment of literature written by the student for performance.
I judged the Open Interpretation category and Jeff judged the Humorous category.  We were judging the final round so we were able to witness the best of  the best (this made it very difficult to judge as they were all phenomenal)!  Let me just say that if you haven’t had the opportunity to witness a competition such as this, find one near you and watch (it is a National organization).  It was thoroughly entertaining to say the least!  There were only 4 contestants in my category and the maximum time per speech was 10 minutes with no minimum time requirement.  I believe there were 8 contestants in Jeff’s category with the same time constraints. 
They also had a junior category for 6-11 year-olds.  I didn’t get a chance to witness this but I heard it was quite adorable.
Now for the debate.  I have to admit that I thought that I would enjoy the debate more than the speech but the truth is I found the speeches far more entertaining.  There were two categories up for debate.  The following was taken from the NCFCA:
Team Policy Debate-  Resolved:  That the United States Federal Government should significantly reform it’s criminal justice system.
Lincoln Douglas Value Debate-  Resolved:  In the pursuit of justice, due process ought to be valued above the discovery of fact.
I judged the semi-final for the Team Policy Debate.  It was 1 1/2 hours long and very official.  I was a note taking machine and I was quite impressed with the intellect of these young men and how articulate and well spoken they were.  It felt like I was in a real court room and I was the judge…probably the ONLY time I will ever feel that official Winking smile.   I really felt pressure to make the right decision, as if I was deciding the future of these young people.  It was a very difficult decision.  There were 2 other judges and we weren’t aloud to discuss this with each other at all.  It came down to who I thought presented the most evidence relevant to the case.  WOW, it was intense!  I only wish I would have been able to stick around to find out who was in the finals...but parenthood called.
I intend to judge again this March at the NCFCA National Open Tournament (all of the States will be represented here and it is a much larger event)…although I don’t think I will judge the debate…too much pressure.  I would love to watch it though.

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