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Erskine welcomes young debaters

Three NCFCA debaters pose in Bowie Chapel on the Erskine campus.

Some 166 students from Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, most of them homeschooled, came with their families to the Erskine College campus Jan. 3-5 for the Region VIII National Christian Forensics Association (NCFCA) first speech and debate qualifier of 2024. The visitors brought life and color to the campus in the days leading up to Erskine’s spring semester, set to begin Jan. 8.

About 20 students, staff members, and professors who completed NCFCA preparation were among the judges for the competition. Coordinator of Alumni Relations Jeanne Bell, for example, judged Lincoln-Douglas or LD debates (two debaters), Team Policy debates (two teams) and several speeches at the event.

Bell says her children were homeschooled and participated in speech and debate activities, though they were not part of an official NCFCA debating club. “We would attend the NCFCA pre-qualifiers…and they would watch while I judged debates and speeches,” she recalls. “One of NCFCA’s goals is to teach youth how to debate and speak well while listening and responding respectfully to those with whom they may disagree.”

Senior Gifts Officer Beth Boyd also served as a judge. “It has been such a pleasure to observe these students. I have been consistently awed by their abilities and graciousness,” she says. “In one event, I felt like I was seeing the next governor….In another, the student could have been mistaken for a high-level med student. Such excellence in our youth is refreshing and reflects the strength of their homeschool education.”

Region VIII Director Rachelle Light, whose son Aaron is among the competitors, is happy to work with NCFCA. She cites the organization’s statement of its purpose—“We challenge and equip ambassadors for Christ to communicate the truth with integrity and grace.”

Admissions Visit and Event Manager Elizabeth Sims has enjoyed assisting Erskine’s NCFCA guests. “Everyone I have worked with has been extremely polite and a delight! There is nothing but professionalism from each parent and student I have met.”

Erskine College, founded more than 180 years ago, trained championship debaters in the 19th century through its literary societies. The school now sponsors a competitive speech and debate team. Speaking for many faculty and staff members who have been involved in the NCFCA sessions at Erskine, Bell says, “It’s been a real honor for Erskine to host this pre-qualifier, and I hope we will see NCFCA back on our campus next January!”

The National Christian Forensics and Communications Association began in 1997 as the HSLDA Debate League with the goal of training up Christian home school students to learn the skills necessary to reach their world with God’s truth. – from the NCFCA website

Shown at top: Philomathean Hall on the Erskine College campus.  

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