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Frequently Asked Questions

(and their answers)



What classes does the BH Debate and Speech Club offer?
We offer the following classes. Which course is offered is determine by interest. We offer a 18-week fall semester course titled "Policy Debate" which includes competitive debate rounds held within the club. We also provide a 16 week spring semester course titled "Worldview and Apologetics" with competitive presentations within the club. We also offer a 12 week Beginning Public Speaking short course, generally in the spring term, for ages 12 through 15 (typically 6th through 9th) to introduce speaking concepts. Or, we offer a more advanced Platform Speech course which addresses the basic platform speeches and includes competitive rounds aimed towards 8th grade and above. All classes and competitive rounds occur at our club location in Beaverton, Oregon.

Who may attend our club?

Our high school club is open to any homeschooling high school student, age 14 to 18*, who is able to attend and willing to uphold its Christian principles and work ethics in a friendly manner. Also how you home school is up to you. Extension program students accepted too. Unlike other debate league and clubs, we do not have a strict 51% home schooling criteria.

*13 year old students may petition for entrance into our high school club if using credit for high school and if able to demonstrate readiness such as taking our Beginning Speaking Short Course with acceptable achievement. 11 year olds are welcome into our Beginning Public Speaking course.

When/Where are classes located? Is there travel for competition?

All theory classes and competitive debate rounds will be held during club time on Tuesdays at Southwest Hills Baptist Church, 9100 SW 135th Avenue, Beaverton, Oregon...No travel is required. No multi-day or weekend events. Currently we meet weekly during the school year from noon to 2pm. Please confirm with Mrs. Arp for each year's class schedule as our actual club time may shift from year to year to accommodate the church's schedule, and class format, but it will always be on Tuesdays.

What does the semester course Policy Debate cover?
This course will cover basic policy debate theory* while also providing immediate practical application. All students will build an affirmative case based upon our club's resolution pertaining to a specific federal government policy, and then defend it in competitive debate rounds against their classmates. All students will argue both sides through a round robin format.

Communication skills are taught as well as criticial thinking and argumentation.

Further basic principles in law, federal government, American free-enterprise economics, logic, and Christian worldview will be discussed in class as they relate to policy debate and apply to our class resolution topic. 

Taught by a former paralegal, the goal of this course will be to instill real life skills in civics and persuasive argumentation rather than flashy gaming techniques in debate. *Most of our policy debate theory will be applicable to the CCNW, NCFCA, or STOA leagues, however we will not provide a travel club for those leagues. Parents and students must pursue those independently outside of our club.

What does the semester course Platform Speech cover?
This course will cover the theory and practical presentation skills for the competitive platform speech types (informative/expository, humorous and dramatic interpretation, impromptu (table topics) and persuasive speech. All students must participate in all speech types. Platform Speech is geared to 8th grade and above and can be taken for 1/2 high school communications credit.

The first quarter will cover development of the speech types. The second competitive quarter will be timed presentations before judges. All students must participate in the competitive rounds. All students must complete a minimum number of each speech type (which includes apologetics) during competitive rounds. The minimum number may vary each year with differing student numbers. 

As an Advanced Toastmaster, Mrs. Arp will bring real world experience into the competitive speech environment. Students will gain experience with fun competition but also prepare for real life presentations.


What does Worldview and Apologetics cover?
Apologetics will delve into using logic and persuasive skills to defend specific faith questions studied through the theory portion. A heavy emphasis will be placed on understanding worldviews and developing an understanding of the student's own Christian worldview to be able to articulate their faith persuasively, but graciously, to an unbeliever in real world situations. All students will rotate through competitive rounds that address the different types of questions regarding common challenges to Christianity and understanding worldview.

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What is the typical student workload?
Work load varies between students. A student should expect to complete a minimum of about 5 hours of homework weekly outside of club time for Policy Debate to be able to develop a reasonable case and defend it. Case work is most intensive earlier in the term as students research the topic and their case evidence. However, prep time can vary, sometimes substantially, between students. Research time for evidence is the typical time eater, which we try to help alleviate through coaching tips and collaboration between students during our theory portion. We encourage students to do a little each day rather than crunching time just before competitive rounds. If a student has a partner, parents will need to provide out of club time for partners to work together to help develop their case presentation. This can be done face to face at a family's home, in a mutual meeting place, or through online chat and document share.

For Worldview & Apologetics, again time will vary between students, but you should anticipate about 2 hours weekly outside of class time to prepare a worldview notebook and research answers to Apologetics questions.


The Beginning Speech course is purposely lighter. Likely 1 to 2 hours outside of class is sufficient to write then practice a speech type. Platform Speech anticipates more polish so may take 2 to 3 hours to write then polish speeches for competition, especially interpretative speeches which are memorized.

What is the Cost?
$150 per student for semester for Beginning Public Speaking. $175 per student for Policy Debate, Platform Speech, or Worldview & Apologetics. Please note these prices may change as rates are adjusted.

Student packet materials are included in this cost. Textbooks and supplemental reading materials are at family expense. (Currently we use class materials as provided by the teacher with suggested reading list for students. Textbooks may be suggested for those students who require a textbook assigned to the course for transcription credit).

Full tuition is due before the first class begins. Early payment secures your student's spot in the class. Class sizes will be limited.

NO refunds are given after 1 week before class starts. Your payment secures your spot, therefore, your student's late drop likely prevented another student from joining. Also a significant amount of workload has been completed to maintain and sustain the club with anticipation of your student's spot. The club must gain and faithfully keep a minimum number of students to remain usefully competitive to provide the best experience for all involved. (Eligibility for some college scholarships may be impacted!) Therefore registering timely to secure a spot, and honoring your registration commitment is expected.

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Can my student earn high school credit?
Yes! We have discussed our course options with Basic Skills and give the following assessment example: Credit Assessment Worksheet for Policy Debate.  

Our full semester of Policy Debate will typically earn 1 credit in the area of high school “Debate Communications and Applications” (credit will vary upon student effort).

The Debate Course may be repeated each year as Policy Debate I, II, III, etc. as additional credit and club mastery awards can be earned. As a student continues in debate, there is opportunity to earn credit in other high school subjects such as economics, government, and worldview. For information about that, please see our Extension Units & Reading page.

A full semester of Wordview & Apologetics will typically earn 1/2 credit in the area of comparative worldview. Credits may vary between students depending upon additional reading and research time.

Platform Speech also may be repeated each year as Speech I, II, III, etc. for 1/2 high school communications credit. Beginning Public Speaking is intended to be a middle school class (ages 11 to 15), however if pre-arranged with Mrs. Arp, it too can be taken for 1/2 high school communications credit as the course will be adjusted for the high school student (with greater speech requirements within the course required).

A certificate of completion will be given by Mrs. Arp; but as the homeschooling parent, you must present your student's credits before Basic Skills or any other interested institution. 

Mrs. Arp is happy to help you assess and verify the student's work effort for credits and assign grades. Specific credit assessment sheets will be provided for each course year. For those students who are required to have a textbook assigned to a course to receive credit, a textbook reading schedule can be provided to the student.


Are there competitive rounds?

Yes, for most of our courses. While our club is friendly and supportive, we do provide competitive rounds for the students since public speaking is often done under pressure. Competitive rounds help students build confidence in public speaking under pressure. Beginning Public Speaking is not competitively geared but focuses on class presentations.


Parents, relatives, friends, and siblings are welcome to view the rounds. Please remain quite at all times and enter and exit rooms when the speaker is not at the podium. Please remember to turn off cell phones and remain respectful of the other classes being held at the facilities.

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Is there a dress code for competition?
Yes, during competitive rounds and speeches, for both Policy Debate and Speech & Apologetics, we ask that all debaters dress in nice business attire. 

That means girls will be in a matching pant suit or dress suit ensemble, and boys will be in either a buisness suit or jacket with dress pants (dockers or khaki type acceptable). 

No tee-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, or jeans will be appropriate for debate rounds. 

We do not intend to make this an expensive option for parents, but we do want to direct students towards a business demeanor that excludes the daily casual ensemble.

At all times students should dress modestly and un-offensively with courtesy for others in mind.

Mrs. Arp will have the final word on any questions about dress.

What are the student requirements and eligibility?
Our club is open to any Christian homeschooling student age 14 to 18 able to attend regularly and willing to uphold our club's Christian principles and work ethics in a cheerful manner. (Cor Deo and Connections Academy students are eligible). *13-year-old 8th grade students may petition for entrance upon proof of ability, but the course must be intended for high school credit. Beginning Public Speaking is geared towards 11 year olds and above.

A student must commit to the full semester of theory AND competitive rounds or speeches. If a student drops, especially after the theory quarter, without sufficient extenuating reasons, they may not be allowed back into the club in future years.

A student's failure to attend regularly, complete homework, support their partner (if any), participate in or prepare their case or speech for rounds may give reason for being dropped from the club.

Overly aggressive, snide, or derogatory treatment of classmates, especially during debate rounds or competitive speech days, will not be tolerated and repeating offenders will be excused from the club. 

Use of electronic devices (laptops, tablets, smart phones, etc.) is welcomed and encouraged in the class as a tool for research on debate and apologetics topics; but their use is a trusted privilege! Use of any device during club time for purpose other than class-related work (ie Facebooking, private messaging, playing games, watching non-class related videos) may cause a student to be promptly dismissed from the program.

If a student is excused from the club due to poor work ethic or behavior, or is warned several times and continues to "limp along" in the club with sub-standard behavior, the student may be placed on "probationary status" upon re-entry or continuation in the club. All re-entry aand/or continuation in the club after being excused or warned will be at the discretion of Mrs. Arp. Please see "struggling students" below and "disciplinary actions and probation" for more detail.

That's a long list of "no's." Really, we want you to have fun and feel comfortable in learning communication a willing attitude and common courtesy to others is the most important thing.

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What are parents required to do for the courses?
Parents are required to supervise and ensure completion and compliance in all student homework, case preparation or speech preparation, work ethic, Christian attitude, dress code on round days, and club participation. 

Generally 5 hours a week of homework can be expected as a minimum for Policy Debate. At least 2 hours per week minimum for Speech with 2 hours per week for Apologetics should be expected. More time may be required by your individual student and during competitive rounds. Beginning Public Speaking is our gentlest course with expectation of about 1 hour a week preparation.

Sometimes it may be necessary for at least one or two parents to sit in during club time, especially the debate and speech competitive rounds, to help implement activities, organize timers, and most importantly act as judges (training provided). Parents can swap off on this duty, sign up sheets may be provided.

Depending on class size, a parent or student may be needed to help set up the class rooms, or oversee students to do so, especially during the competitive round quarter.  Also a parent may be needed to help supervise students in re-arranging the rooms for the next day's activity (the church appreciates are on the wall!)

What about younger siblings?

Only registered students are allowed to participate in our classes. Older siblings, 10 years and older, are welcome as round timers, however, younger siblings should not attend unless they can sit quietly during competitive rounds with a parent. The church often has spare rooms for younger students to complete homework quietly, and younger children are allowed to play on the play structure with parent supervision. Please respect the church property and facilities at all times.

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Materials Required
Student Supplies
A 3 ring binder with divisions is required for each student (siblings may not share) for all courses. These class notebooks are handed in at the end of the term for grading, except for Beginning Public Speaking.

A laptop, tablet, or other such internet connected electronic device is strongly recommended for research purposes for Policy Debate or Apologetics. The church has a filtered wi-fi and internet connection.

Policy Debate--none--a student materials packet will be provided through eList for the theory portion. If your student needs to report a textbook to gain transcription credit for this course, please use "Introduction to Policy Debate" -or- the older edition "Introduction to Argumentation and Debate" by Christy Shipe, either 4th or 5th edition. Mrs. Arp has a few textbooks to loan out for those students who need to use them. A coordination plan is available for those students who wish to follow along with a textbook. 

Speech courses--none--a student materials packet will be provided through eList for the theory portion. If your student needs to report a textbook to gain transcription credit for this course, please use "Beginning Public Speaking" by Teresa Moon.

Apologetics--none--lectures and student homework assignments will be provided each week, however, there are reading suggestions that are strongly recommended to develop the student's mind and theology. (See the Apologetics Resources page). If your student needs to report a textbook to gain transcription credit for this course, please use "The Art of Apologetics" by Karen Kovaka. A coordination plan is available for those students who wish to follow along with a textbook.

Recommended Materials

Policy Debate
Please see our Policy Debate Class Materials page for a full listing.

Worldview & Apologetics 
Recommended Materials: Please see our Apologetics Resources section for a full listing.


Speech courses:

None. Materials provided.

What if my student struggles with the course concepts or club expectations?

Some students may struggle with the course concepts as the concepts are complex. Many are fearful of public speaking, which is natural. Our club is a place to improve thinking and communication skills in an encouraging environment for all students. 

Both Mrs. Arp and her assistant Miss Alaina are available to answer questions in class and afterwards through personal meeting or email. Our club google group list encourages interaction among the students and instructor outside of class as well. An excuse of "I didn't know" or "I didn't understand" simply means you didn't ask.

Success will take a student's willingness to diligently apply themselves to difficult concepts and be open to coaching. Sometimes that is difficult for young students to do when they feel inept. We are willing to help if a student is willing to grow.

Please do not let your student languish in silence. Contact us if you feel your student is falling behind or is not grasping what he/she should be doing. Please encourage your student to persevere with a cheerful attitude.


Student Disciplinary Actions

If necessary, disciplinary actions and probation will be implemented in certain situations and behaviors.

If a student is found to be egregiously lax in their work preparation or attendance, or repeatedly has a recalcitrant attitude during either theory portion or competitive rounds, or abuses their computer privileges in class (ie social networking rather than researching), or shows inhospitable behavior to other students, the student may be immediately dropped from the club at Mrs. Arp's discretion. 

If a student is dropped from the club for cause, no refund of tuition will be made and any outstanding tuition owing (if the family was on a payment plan) is due immediately. Such a drop may make a student ineligible for future participation in the club depending upon the reason and circumstances.

If a student is truly remorseful for prior poor work or behavior, a probationary status may be provided to the student at Mrs. Arp's discretion. 

Probationary students may be allowed into the club only if there is room after other students in good standing have registered, and only if both parent and student commit to an improved effort by the student. A parent will be required to closely supervise and help assist a probationary student with the concepts and attitudes necessary for success in the club. 

Mrs. Arp will explain the terms and conditions for probationary students in personal conference and/or email with the petitioning parent. Some terms may vary from student to student as needs arise. The student and parent will be asked to sign an agreement of probation terms. The purpose will be to aid the student in gaining maturity rather than feeling "shamed." However, the student must understand and accept the standards of the club.

Our goal is to help all students enter our club with a full commitment to provide their best effort and best attitude. This shows support to the other club members and to their own learning goals. Such commitment is necessary to maintain a quality educational environment for all students involved.


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