The competition begins today and continues through Saturday at Westwood Baptist Church. The competition begins at 8 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Lisa Stewart, an organizer of the event, said the competition gives home-schooled students ages 12-18 the opportunity to compete in a maximum of five speech categories and one of two debate categories.
“No singular thing that we have done in our home-schooling experience ... has been as academically challenging,” said Liz Absher, an organizer for the event.
Unlike many other speech competitions the NCFCA does not exclusively use speech-trained judges, according to Absher. The coordinators are still looking for more people to volunteer as judges.
Absher said the contest uses a variety of individuals as judges to prepare students for effectively communicating with people of different educational and cultural backgrounds.
Judges focus on content and delivery as well as category-specific criteria.
Stewart said during the Cleveland competition 16 students from each category will advance to the semifinals. If a category has fewer than 16 participants, the number is changed to eight. Semifinalists will give their presentations again to determine who will compete in the final round. Absher said students will give their speech a minimum of three times during the competition. Each round consists of eight to 10 students’ speeches.
The speeches are ranked 1 through 8 or 1 through 10 depending on how many students were involved in the round. Each student receives a score sheet from the judges with a rank of 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 and below.
The rank is determined by a separate group that collects all the score sheets and tracks them, according to Absher.
Judges are encouraged to write comments on the score sheet so the student can better their skills. The number of students who go on to the regional competition is determined by how many participate at the qualifying level.
To judge one event takes three hours, two consecutive events take five hours, and three consecutive events take seven hours. Judges are required to be a high school graduate age 18 or older. Proof of community service in the event can also be made available if requested.
The NCFCA was started in 2001 as a way for affiliate students to hone communication and oratory skills and learn to defend their Christian faith.
Stewart said the Cleveland chapter meets on a weekly basis at Westwood to prepare for competitions. Although the chapter is open to local home-schoolers, students must become a national affiliate to participate in competition.
Absher said those interested in participating as judges should contact her at 284-5886 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Judges can also sign up online at www.ncfca.org by clicking “Welcome Judges!” selecting region 7 on the map, then picking the Cleveland, Tenn., tournament.
This website also provides information about becoming an affiliate. For more information about joining the local chapter, contact Stewart at 476-5520.