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Tom McKinney, Americanism Chairman for Madison American Legion, Post 229 congratulates Madison County resident Emily Drown, who was the 2020 state winner in the American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Contest. CONTRIBUTED

American Legion Oratorical Contest opens for high school youth

MADISON – High school youth in Madison County can vie for cash prizes while showing their knowledge of the U.S. Constitution in the 2021 American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Contest.

American Legion posts across Madison County, include Post 229 in Madison, have invited students to compete in the 84th annual iteration of the speech contest.

“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,” Tom McKinney said. McKinney serves as Americanism Chairman for Madison American Legion.

Contest rules require the subject in the prepared oration portion of the contest pertain to some phase of the U.S. Constitution, along with emphasizing the duties and obligations of a citizen to the United States government. The contest also will include an assigned subject allowing the contestants to speak briefly on a specific constitutional matter.

The first level of competition will start at 10 a.m. on Jan. 23, 2021 at Madison City Hall, 100 Hughes Road. Contestants must arrive by 9:30 a.m. for briefing. Madison County’s contest winner will be eligible to advance in the contest to the district, division and State of Alabama levels of competition.

At each level of competition, winners in the top three places will receive monetary awards. The winner at each level will progress to the next level.

The winners for the State of Alabama will be awarded scholarships of $2,500, $1,500 and $1,000 for the top three places, respectively. The first-place winner of the Alabama competition will advance to the national finals, scheduled for Indianapolis, Ind. in April 2021.

The national level includes three levels of competition: Round 1, Round 2 and Final. Each state winner who competes in the first round of the national contest will receive a $2,000 scholarship.

Participants in the second round who do not advance to the national final round will receive an additional $2,000 scholarship. The top three youth orators who have won all previous elimination rounds of the contest will receive college scholarships of $25,000, $22,500 and $20,000, respectively.

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

The contest for Madison County students has been arranged with the cooperation of local school officials. Students can contact the college/career counselor at school for contest details.

Madison County high-schoolers interested in entering the competition can access complete rules and contest information at legion.org/oratorical.

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