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Winners in American’s Legion Madison County High School Oratorical Scholarship Program were Emily Joy Drown, first place, home school; Megan Watkins, second place, Madison County High School; and Ellie Wilson, third place, Providence Classical High School. CONTRIBUTED

Students explore U.S. Constitution in American Legion’s oratorical contest

MADISON – American Legion posts invited students from the 29 high schools across Madison County to participate in the 83rd annual Madison County High School Oratorical Scholarship Program.

The constitutional speech contest sponsored by American Legion included students in public and private schools. Counselors at the schools received competition information packages.

Madison American Legion, Post 229 hosted the contest. In addition, American Legion Posts 176, 237 and 351 in Madison County assisted in the contest’s organization and implementation. Six students competed in the 2020 county-level contest on Jan. 25.

Winning students in American’s Legion Madison County High School Oratorical Scholarship Program were Emily Joy Drown, first place, home school junior; Megan Watkins, second place, Madison County High School senior; and Ellie Wilson, third place, Providence Classical High School sophomore. Other contestants were Haripriya Mantraratnam, James Clemens High School sophomore; and Payton Groth and Mason Lee, Providence Classical High School sophomores.

“Stepping up to participate in such an important contest on such an important subject” showed the competitors’ character, Tom McKinney said. McKinney served as contest chairman and is Post 229 Americanism Chairman. “The speeches were excellent, and all the contestants should be considered winners.”

Drown advanced to the American Legion District 12 competition (North Alabama) on Feb. 1 at American Legion, Post 15 in Decatur. District 12’s winner will compete for the First Division title in Hartselle on Feb. 22. That winner will advance to state competition on March 14 in Montgomery.

Subjects of the speeches must pertain to some aspect of the U.S. Constitution, with emphasis on citizens’ duties and obligations to government. Prepared speeches are 8 to 10 minutes; contestants also must speak on a randomly drawn topic for 3 to 5 minutes.

The 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, history of our nation’s laws, clear thinking and speaking and an understanding of the duties, responsibilities, rights and privileges of American citizenship.

Young orators earn generous college scholarships. American Legion will award more than $140,000 in scholarships this year.

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