I do not typically editorialize, but in this case I will. The NCFL is too significant for me to not share a few thoughts on both Lizbeth and the team's accomplishments. [The above picture is of all the students from all the high schools in the Charlotte Mecklenburg School System who attended the NCFL tournament.]
On May 23rd - May 24th, Lizbeth competed in the NCFL tournament. Her event was Declamation, and her countless hours of practice gained her a place in Octa-finals, allowing her to place in the top 48 within the nation.
I am extremely proud of Lizbeth's accomplishments. Her accomplishments are much more than the distance she was able to go in the NCFL tournament; rather, this year is about the distance she has gone in perfecting a powerful speech that was not always readily received by her audience or judges. There were times when she was scored poorly due to the content of her speech rather than receiving a score based upon her delivery of a speech replete with merit. When this would occur, I would find myself musing over the irony of a judge's remarks in contrast to the ideas and beliefs of the original author and speaker, Gianna Jessen. Gianna knew her thoughts would be viewed by some with disdain - Lizbeth could never completely escape this wave of disdain. More importantly, she also couldn't avoid the many people who were inspired by Gianna's truth.
Thus, I am most proud of Lizbeth's ultimate accomplishment, which is her pride in the privilege to impact people with Gianna's message - a pride that became greater than her need to be first in a competition.
I do believe that truth sets people free; Lizbeth's experience is emblematic of my team's experience; it is emblematic of my experience this year - we all began speaking with a conviction that set us free and an enthusiasm that made us all better people. I know Lizbeth and I kept wishing the whole team could have been at nationals, but in some small way, I think they were.
Below is a recording of Lizbeth's declamation, in honor of Gianna Jessen.