Six homeschooled students from the area will compete in the Stoa USA National Invitational Tournament of Champions, a national speech and debate tournament, at the end of May. 

Four homeschooled students from the Ambassadors for Christ Speech and Debate Club, which meets in Franklin, and two homeschooled students from the Impact Speech and Debate Club, which meets in Columbia, have qualified for the Stoa USA National Invitational Tournament of Champions from May 23-29 at Union University in Jackson, Tenn.

All six will also compete in the Ambassadors’ April Finale from April 29 through  May 1 at the Concord Road Church of Christ in Brentwood.

Students from 15 states will participate in this national-qualifying tournament, which includes three forms of debate and 12 speech categories, according to a release. Community members can also attend and serve as community judges and to observe the rounds of competition. Social distancing and masking measures will be observed.

No prior experience is necessary to serve as a judge, tournament director Lana Thornton said.

“If you watch political debates and vote in elections, I assure you, you’re qualified to judge junior and senior high school scholastic debate and speech events," Thornton said. 

Judge orientation will be presented before each round and a hospitality room will provide meals and refreshments while judges fill out their ballots. The total time required to judge an event is about two hours, including training, she added.

Information on judge sign-ups and the tournament schedule is available through the tournament website and not from Concord Road Church of Christ, which is not affiliated with the tournament.

The sponsoring club is associated with the Christian Communicators of Tennessee,, and Stoa USA,

Senior varsity competitors, ages 13-18, will present their speeches and engage in debate Thursday through Saturday, while junior varsity competitors, ages 6-12, will participate in a Saturday afternoon tournament.

Parliamentary debate and duo interpretation partners Aubrey Eytchison and Ella Jacobs, both of Brentwood, are qualified for NITOC in seven and six speech and debate categories, respectively; many of their qualifying rounds were in virtual competitions.

Team policy debate partners Matthew McGuire, 17, of Franklin, and David Helton, 15, of Old Hickory, are qualified in team policy, as are Impact Club members Braeden Farley, 16, of Spring Hill and Ian Davidson, 17, of Franklin.

The Farley-Davidson team is ranked fifth nationally and first in Tennessee in TP. Helton is qualified in parliamentary debate with his team partner Avian Hall, 16, formerly of Franklin and now of New York City. They’ve been able to participate as debate partners during the many virtual tournaments Stoa USA has held this year. Two more Ambassador students, Anne Helton, 14, of Old Hickory, and Cyler Crandall, 17, of Nolensville, have one qualifying check and are pursuing a second check in their events in April tournaments.

Jacobs, 17, who ranks first in Tennessee in both speech and combined speech and debate, is No. 11 nationally in speech rankings and No. 13 in combined speech and debate rankings. In parliamentary debate, she is No. 1 in speaker points in the country. Eytchison, 18, currently No. 1 nationally in both dramatic and humorous interpretation, is ranked 21st in speech rankings and 26th in combined speech and debate rankings in the nation.

Current National Qualifiers from Williamson County Stoa Speech and Debate Clubs, Ambassadors for Christ and Impact Speech and Debate teams:


Apologetics: Braeden Farley, Ella Jacobs

Dramatic Interpretation: Aubrey Eytchison

Expository: Aubrey Eytchison

Extemporaneous: Braeden Farley, Ella Jacobs

Humorous Interpretation: Aubrey Eytchison

Mars Hill Impromptu: Aubrey Eytchison

Original Oratory: Ella Jacobs

Persuasive: Aubrey Eytchison, Ella Jacobs


Lincoln-Douglas: Aubrey Eytchison, Ella Jacobs

Parliamentary Debate: Ella Jacobs-Aubrey Eytchison, David Helton-Avian Hall, Braeden Farley-Ian Davidson

Team Policy: Braeden Farley-Ian Davidson, David Helton-Matthew McGuire

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