The American Legion Oratorical Contest exists to develop deeper knowledge and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution among high school students. Since 1938, the program has presented participants with an academic speaking challenge that teaches important leadership qualities, the history of our nation’s laws, the ability to think and speak clearly, and an understanding of the duties, responsibilities, rights and privileges of American citizenship. The program has featured numerous politicians and prominent contestants over the years, including former president candidate Alan Keyes and CNN anchor Lou Dobbs.
Young orators earn some of the most generous college scholarships available to high school students. Over $138,000 in scholarships can be awarded each year. The overall national contest winner gets an $18,000 scholarship. Second place takes home $16,000, and third gets $14,000. Each department (state) winner who is certified into and participates in the national contest’s first round receives a $1,500 scholarship. Those who advance past the first round receive an additional $1,500 scholarship. The American Legion’s National Organization awards the scholarships, which can be used at any college or university in the United States.
High school students under age 20 are eligible. Competition begins at the post level and advances to a state competition. Legion department representatives certify one winner per state to the national contest, where department winners compete against each other in two speaking rounds. The contest caps off with a final round that decides the three top finishers.
Speaking subjects must be on some aspect of the U.S. Constitution, with some emphasis on the duties and obligations of citizens to our government. Speeches are eight to 10 minutes long; three- to five-minute speeches on an assigned topic also are part of the contest.
The American Legion Department of Oklahoma held the 81st Oratorical High School Constitutional Speech Contest, on February 17, 2018, at the W. Roger Webb Forensics Science Institute, on the campus of the University of Central Oklahoma.
This year we had six contestants from throughout the State, and are listed as follows:
Taylor Goeppinger, Coweta High School, Coweta, OK, sponsored by Zoal Stringer Post 226, and Legion member Roy Jordan
Reagan Stephens, Weatherford High School, Weatherford, OK, sponsored by Bergner - Eaton Post 91, and Legion member Doug Hale
Clayton Ward, Home Schooled, Duncan, OK, sponsored by Dobbs – Adams Post 55, and Legion member Larry Davidson
Jacob Ervin, Alva High School, Alva, OK, sponsored by Meyer – Sheil Post 92, and Legion member Darren Whitely
Rebekah Pope, Mustang High School, Mustang, OK, sponsored by Mustang Post 353, and Legion member John G. Bishop
Grace Van Ness, Mustang High School, Mustang, OK, sponsored by Mustang Post 353, and Legion member John G. Bishop
Each contestant had to recite an oration no less than eight minutes and no more than ten minutes on some aspect of “The United States Constitution,” without out the aid of notes, podiums, and microphones. In addition, they had to recite an oration of no less than three minutes and no more than five minutes on an Assigned Topic, which was; Amendment 3, “No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”
This is a great American Legion program and we hope to have more contestants competing next year. Congratulations to Reagan Stephens of Weatherford, Oklahoma for winning the competition. Reagan is sponsored by American Legion Post 91 of Weatherford, OK.
Rob Willis - firstname.lastname@example.org