MOUNT VERNON — A two-day Christian Communicators of America speech and debate tournament is taking place at Faith Baptist Church. The first rounds were held Friday and the concluding rounds, including the final debate, are scheduled for today.
The local Christians Practicing Rhetoric Club is hosting the event, which attendees say is both educational and fun. This week’s contestants included 91 students participating in 110 individual speech events and 29 debate teams from around Ohio.
Event coordinator Rebecca Wilson said the most basic goal of the event is to teach the children to be able to give an account of the hope that is within them.
“We also want to be able to teach them to be good communicators,” she said, “and the way we do that is to go through a policy debate.”
This year’s topic is Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially reform its policy toward trade with India and/or China. The competition also includes individual events such as interpretive speech, limited preparation speeches and impromptu apologetics. The students also give persuasive and rhetorical criticism speeches. The latter, Wilson said, is when the students bring in an artifact of communication, such as a campaign advertisement, and use communication theory to evaluate it.
The CCA is basically a high-school age league, for students age 13 and up, but because it is family-oriented, there are events for the younger children as well.
Keran Sprague, who lives near Akron, has participated in CCA events for two years. He said the first and foremost reason is “to glorify our creator and lord Jesus Christ.”
He said the competition brings out a person’s best speaking skills and sharpens the ability to communicate one’s thoughts.
“It hones skills needed to communicate throughout your life,” said Sprague.
Steubenville’s Joseph Hahn is in his fourth year of competition. His two favorite things about the competition are the rhetoric skills it gives him and the knowledge of the world the debate topics inspire.
“We study things like income tax rates and campaign finances,” he explained. “The contest also really helps with the public speaking sphere — when you get up in front of a crowd, it’s nice to know that I’ve done this before, I can do it again. Just the practice is valuable. It’s coming up with logical arguments that have a basis in evidence. It’s developing those arguments over time, showing what they mean. It’s great to have a theoretical argument, but you need to bring it down to earth, to tell the judge what this means for the American citizen.”