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Local winners in the 2017 American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Program were Olivia Mullinix, from left, fourth place, James Clemens High School; Ryan Williams, third, Bob Jones High School; Megan Sheehan, first, Bob Jones; and Meenakshi Bhooshanan, first (female), Bob Jones. CONTRIBUTED

American Legion invites students to enter oratorical contest

MADISON – Teenagers across Madison County can hone their writing and speaking skills by entering the 82nd annual American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Program.

American Legion, Post 229 is the local sponsor of this national contest. The Madison County contest will be held at Madison City Hall, 100 Hughes Road at 9 a.m. on Jan. 26.

“The oratorical contest presents our county high school students with an academic speaking challenge that teaches important leadership skills, the history of the nation’s laws, the ability to think and speak clearly and an understanding of the duties, responsibilities, rights and privileges of American citizenship,” Madison County Oratorical Chairman Tom McKinney said.

For the contest’s prepared oration portion, the subject must be about some phase of the Constitution of the United States, emphasizing the duties and obligations of a citizen to the U.S. government. “The contest also will include an assigned subject allowing the contestants to speak briefly on a specific constitutional matter,” McKinney said.

The winner on Jan. 26 will be eligible to advance in district, division and state levels of competition.

The winner in the first three places at each level will receive monetary awards. Each level’s winner will progress to the next level.

“The State of Alabama winners will be awarded scholarships of $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000 for the top three places, respectively,” McKinney said. “The winner of the Alabama competition will advance to national finals in Indianapolis, Ind. in April 2019.”

At the national level, students will compete in three levels — Round 1, Round 2 and Final. Each state winner competing in the first round will receive a $1,500 scholarship. Participants in the second round who do not advance will receive an additional $1,500 scholarship. “The top three youth orators who have won all previous elimination rounds of the contest will receive college scholarships of $18,000, $16,000 and $14,000, respectively,” McKinney said.

American Legion will pay travel and lodging expenses of state winners at the national contest.

Madison County high school students interested in entering the competition can access complete rules and contest information at legion.org/oratorical. Legionnaires have collaborated with school officials to introduce the contest.

For more information, students can contact their career/college counselor or email McKinney at mckinn911@aol.com.

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