Cooper Smith, Brandon Black, Emmy Hickman, Maddie Jarrard and Katherine Nesbitt

In a district competition held March 7 and 8 at Brentwood Academy, six members of the BA Speech and Debate team qualified for this summer’s National Speech and Debate Tournament to be held in Dallas, Tex.

The National Speech and Debate Tournament is the largest academic competition in the world. To attend the National Tournament, students must place among the top competitors at one of 110 district tournaments across the country. Qualifiers will compete for college scholarships in one of 11 main events as well as seven consolation and supplemental events.

Katherine Nesbitt and Brandon Black qualified in Duo Interpretation; Maddie Jarrard qualified in International Extemporaneous; Emmy Hickman qualified in Dramatic Interpretation; and Cooper Smith qualified in Humorous Interpretation. Michael Rankin qualified as an alternate in Humorous Interpretation. The team, coached by Mr. Ryan Hubbard, also won overall speech team sweepstakes.

“Each event at nationals has 250-300 qualifiers,” Hubbard explains. “The best two or three students from each state or district has qualified to be in that event, so its 250 of the most competitive students in the country in each of those events. To advance at all at this tournament is just icing on the cake because just the fact that you are there competing is a huge success. Anything you do outside of that is incredible.”

BA’s Speech and Debate team has had an unprecedented year of national success. The team placed first at the Wake Forest University national tournament and the Glenbrooks tournament in Chicago, which is the largest high school-run speech and debate tournament in the country. Additionally, BA has advanced students to the final rounds of competition at every national tournament they have attended including George Mason University, Emory University, and Harvard University. The team also claimed the sweepstakes trophy at the Smoky Mountain Tournament in Gatlinburg.

Since the beginning of the season, BA’s team has amassed nearly 100 individual and team awards as they have competed around the country. Additionally, students have spent thousands of hours preparing their competition pieces and refining them each week.

Last year, Brentwood Academy qualified nine students for the 2014 National Speech and Debate Tournament. Two of the nine, Amanda East and Lexie Harvey, made it to the final round of competition to earn national titles.

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