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Contestants in the 2021 Madison County American Legion Oratorical Contest were Blake Walker, from left, Baron Bates, Dana Taylor, Anna Claire Fitts, Kate Nettles and first-place winner Emily Drown. CONTRIBUTED

Drown repeats win in American Legion Oratorical Contest

MADISON –For the second consecutive year, Emily Joy Drown has won the Madison County American Legion Oratorical Contest.

Students in local high schools and home school programs across Madison County were invited to participate in the 84th annual American Legion Oratorical Scholarship Program, dubbed “A Constitutional Speech Contest.”

American Legion, Post 229 in Madison hosted the event on Jan. 23 at Madison City Hall. American Legion Posts 176, 237 and 351 from Madison County participated in the contest’s organization and implementation. This year, six high school students competed at the county level.

Winning students were Drown, first place, home school; Baron Bates, second, Providence Classical High School; and Kate Nettles, third, Providence.

Contest co-chairman Chris Brown congratulated all contestants on “stepping up to take place in such an important contest on such an important subject.” Because of COVID-19, organizers applied additional safety precautions. Contest co-chairmen were Brown; Tommy Whitten, Post 229; and Tom Paone, Post 237, Huntsville.

The American Legion contest develops deeper knowledge and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution among high school students, Post 229 Americanism Chairman Tom McKinney said. Since 1938, the program has offered an academic speaking challenge that teaches important leadership qualities, history of our nation’s laws, efficient thinking and an understanding of duties, responsibilities, rights and privileges of American citizenship.

Young orators earn generous college scholarships. In 2020, American Legion awarded more than $140,000.

Subjects for speeches must deal with an aspect of the U.S. Constitution, with emphasis on citizens’ obligations to government. Prepared speeches last eight to 10 minutes. Contestants also respond to a random topic for three to five minutes, Post 229 and Madison County Commander Larry Vannoy said.

Drown will advance to American Legion District 12 (Northern Alabama) competition on Feb. 13 at American Legion, Post 15 in Decatur. District 12’s winner will advance to First Division competition on Feb. 27 in Hartselle. The division winner will compete at the state level on March 6 in Montgomery.

The 2021 National Finals will be held on April 9-First Division competition on Feb. 27 in Hartselle. The division winner will compete at the st11 in Indianapolis at the Wyndham Hotel. Quarterfinal and semifinal contests are scheduled for April 10 with finals on April 11. The first-place winner will receive $25,000; second place, $22,500; and third place, $20,000.

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