BA speech and debate

Students on the Brentwood Academy speech and debate team are (from left) Jackson Peden, Caroline Breen, Haley Warren, Sloan Rogers and Jackson Hoppe.

Despite a year of significant changes to the way competition looked for Brentwood Academy’s seasoned speech and debate team, the students have enjoyed unprecedented success.

According to a press release from the school, four BA seniors — Caroline Breen, Sloan Rogers, Jackson Hoppe and Jackson Peden — and sophomore Haley Warren each qualified to compete at Nationals after earning top spots in seven different events. The students competed against other speech students from high schools all across Tennessee.

Competition season typically involves as many as 10-12 weekends of travel for the average speech student, performing prepared or impromptu speech events in front of live audiences and judges around the country. This year, however, the students had to submit performances almost entirely online or virtually yet found their way to success with this new platform.

“I am beyond pleased with the efforts of our speech team and the way they have adapted after losing the ability to connect in person with an audience,” said Austin Groves, Brentwood Academy Upper School speech coach. “Engagement is such an important part of the communication process, and this team has stayed motivated, persevered, and is seeing the reward. We’re so thankful.”

The BA speech team accumulated seven top-10 finishes as a school, finished in the top six 38 times and was named tournament champion nine times, all while competing virtually for competitions hosted by prestigious programs such as Emory University in Atlanta and Harvard University.

In February, Brentwood Academy hosted the only in-person tournament in the state of Tennessee by following COVID protocols and rallying as a community. The tournament accommodated eight schools from Tennessee, with some competitors traveling more than 250 miles away for the chance to compete in-person.

Brentwood Academy brought home the gold in team sweepstakes for this tournament and followed it up the next weekend with another first-place finish at the national qualifying tournament.

The national qualifiers will compete in the events below by submitting videos of their performances online to the National Speech and Debate Association in June. 

Peden — Informative Speaking

Breen — Original Oratory 

Warren — Original Oratory 

Hoppe — Informative Speaking 

Rogers — Dramatic Interpretation 

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