BGA Student is Top Finalist in National Speech & Debate Competition

BGA Speech Competition
From left to right: Clare Frances Kennedy '18; Emma McCaleb '18; Zack Helberg '17; Benjamin Ball '17; Nathan Kruse '18; Cadi Kadlecek, Speech and Debate Team Coach

From more than 150,000 student members of the National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA), they have recognized the top finalists in the world’s largest academic competition. The National Speech & Debate Tournament was held in Birmingham, Alabama June 18-23, 2017 with more than 4,000 qualifying competitors. The top placing students not only took home a National Championship title and awards, but more than $200,000 in scholarship money.

“It is quite an accomplishment to qualify to the National Speech and Debate Tournament,” said J. Scott Wunn, Executive Director of the National Speech & Debate Association. “Only 3% of high school speech and debate competitors qualify, and less than 1% of speech and debate students can call themselves a national champion. These students are extraordinarily talented and we look forward to the great things they will do with their talents in the future.”

Below is a list of the top six National Speech and Debate Tournament finalists in International Extemporaneous Speaking:

6th place
Nathan Kruse
Battle Ground Academy ― Franklin, TN
Coached by Cadi Kadlecek

5th place
Tim Chung
Gabrielino High School ― San Gabriel, CA
Coached by Derek Yuill, Eric Chen, and Jill Hanhong

4th place
Clay M. Owens
Perry High School ― Massillon, OH
Coached by Kathy A. Patron, John Weaver, and Kevin McDougal

3rd Place
(Receives a $250 scholarship)
Nikhil Ramaswamy
Plano West Sr. High School ― Plano, TX
Coached by Rhonda Smith and Kattie Leito

2nd Place
(Receives a $500 scholarship)
Olivia Shoemaker
Lakeville North High School ― Lakeville, MN
Coached by Yatesh Singh and Elizabeth Vieira

(Receives a $1,000 scholarship on behalf of the Council on Foreign Relations and $5,000 EF Hutton Scholarship)
Connor Rothschild
Kickapoo High School ― Springfield, MO
Coached by Jon Marc Baney

BGA finished in the top 40 of all teams in the tournament and was recognized as a team of honor. Only one other Tennessee school earned team recognition at the event. Individual honors included:

Benjamin Ball ‘17 finished in the top 28 out of more than 500 students in Expository Speaking
Zack Helberg ‘17 placed in the top 200 out of more than 900 students in Extemp Debate
Clare Frances Kennedy ‘18 placed in the top 100 out of more than 600 students in Prose
Nathan Kruse ‘18 placed sixth in the country, out of nearly 300 competitors, in International Extemp
Emma McCaleb ‘18 finished in the top 60 out of more than 300 students of the International Extemp, and in the top 200 out of more than 800 students in Impromptu

Additionally, for the second year, McCaleb has been selected to represent the U.S. at the annual International English Speech Competition hosted by George Mason University Korea. McCaleb landed a spot on the American team after submitting a detailed application.