Published Sunday, April 15, 2012 in Education By REBECCA LEFTWICH More than 200 home-schooled students from Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina converged on First Baptist Church in Newnan recently to compete in the three-day National Christian Forensics and Communications Association (NCFCA) Qualifying Tournament. Students competed in Team Policy and Lincoln Douglas debate, as well as two categories of speech. Prepared Platform speeches included Biographical Narrative, Duo Interpretation, Humorous Interpretation, Illustrated Oratory, Open Interpretation and Persuasive. Limited Preparation speeches included Apologetics, Extemporaneous and Impromptu. Competitors each gave their speeches three times before a different panel of judges, from there advancing to semifinals and then to finals. Debaters had six preliminary rounds and those who qualify advanced to octafinals, quarterfinal and semifinals. The top two students held the final debate on stage in front of seven judges. An awards ceremony honored finalists in each category, but the true rewards are the relationships formed during the competition and the lives touched by the messages shared by the students, whose goal is to honor God through their words and actions. “What makes this different than most competitions is that you have caring young competitors helping each other in the background to improve their speeches and debate cases even though they will be competing against each other,” said Marielle Hersey, Georgia’s NCFCA representative. “Now, that is what makes these kids so incredibly special. Iron sharpens iron and their ultimate goal is to become better communicators for Christ. “It was not uncommon to see young people praying together in the halls before speech rounds or before a debate began,” Hersey added. “The goal truly is to glorify God.” Two hundred and seven competitors gave 1,399 speeches and performed 240 debates, requiring 904 judges for the Newnan event. Although parents serve as judges, the tournament reached out to the community for volunteer judges as well. Tournament officials thanked the community judges as well as First Baptist for the use of its facilities. But it was the students’ turn to truly shine, and judges said they were extremely impressed with the students’ work even though many competed in multiple events. “These students have excelled in presenting varied types of speeches and I have been quite impressed,” American Legion Commander Arnie Geiger said. “Any of them would be more than qualified to be a part of our speech contest as well.” “These kids are so inspiring,” Dave Damron said. ‘The most impressive thing is how these kids can articulate a topic in just 10 minutes and have it be informational and inspiring. It challenged me to want to do this with my four kids.” “This is more fun than I ever thought it would be,” Everett Smith said. “There are a lot of smart kids here, too. I am very impressed with that.” Students competing in five speech categories and debate are considered Iron Man Competitors. They included Grace Beisner, Jena Ruth Coen, Mary-Katherine Collins, Ryan Coughlin, David Harbin, Micayla Hersey, Patrick Ingolsby, Rachael Ingolsby, Emily Rogers, Alex Sargent and Daniel Warren. Marathoners, who are students competing in five speech categories, included Sarah Brent, Meghan O’Neal and Elisha Sputo. Sweepstake Winners, who are the top 17 competitors overall in the speech event, were Jennie Lee, Alex Sargent, Emily Rogers, Sarah Brent, Mary-Katherine Collins, David Harbin, Phoebe Bermudez, Rachael Ingolsby, Morgan Eaves, Jena Ruth Coen, Elisha Sputo, Jonathan Hixson, Daniel Warren, Savannah Lee, Morgan Hatfield, Elaine Hammett and Katy Seymour. Lincoln Douglas debate finalists were Shannon Wade, Brooke Wade, Caleb Spencer, Dominic Cassano, Jena Ruth Coen, Mary-Katherine Collins, Daniel Blanchard and David Harbin. Team Policy debate finalists were Goodson/Ingolsby, Downing/Moore, Caiello/Hixson, Alexander/Brake, McKinney/Schow, Lane/Martin, Clark/Hersey and Holt/Holt. For more information on NCFCA, visit ncfca.org .