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Providence Classical tops for American Legion orators

MADISON – Providence Classical High School students claimed the top three honors in American Legion’s 2019 Oratorical Scholarship Contest.

American Legion members contacted students in the 29 high schools across Madison County, including both public and private schools, and invited the teenagers to participate in the constitutional speech contest held Jan. 26 in Madison City Hall.

In addition, counselors at each school received information packages.

Laura Charlotte Underwood was the first-place, gold-medal winner with $300. Emily Joy Drown took second place for $200. Anna Rebekah Sims earned the third-place bronze medal for $100. All three students attend Providence Classical High School in Huntsville.

Other 2019 competitors were Paul St. John Lamey Jr. and Isaac Jonathan Martin from Providence Classical and Aditya Singhal representing James Clemens High School.

“The American Legion created this contest for high school students to develop and demonstrate a deeper knowledge and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution,” Tom McKinney said. McKinney serves as Americanism Chairman for American Legion, Post 229 in Madison.

“Since 1938, the program has presented participants with an academic speaking challenge that teaches important leadership qualities, history of our nation’s laws, ability to think and speak clearly and an understanding of the duties, responsibilities, rights and privileges of American citizenship,” McKinney said.

Young orators earn some of the most generous college scholarships available to high school students. Nationally, more than $138,000 in scholarships is available to contestants each year.

American Legion, Post 229 in Madison, along with posts 176, 237 and 351 from Huntsville, helped in organizing and conducting the competition.

Subjects for speaking must relate to an aspect of the U.S. Constitution, emphasizing citizens’ duties and obligations to government. Prepared speeches are 8 to 10 ten minutes; contestants also give a 3- to 5-minute impromptu speech on a randomly drawn topic.

Underwood also won for District 12 and will advance to District 12 competition for North Alabama on Feb. 9 at American Legion, Post 15 in Decatur. “The public is encouraged to attend and support these talented young people,” McKinney said.

District 12’s winner will advance to First Division competition on Feb. 23 at First Presbyterian Church in Decatur. That winner will then proceed to Department of Alabama competition on March 9 in Montgomery.

National finals are scheduled for April 5-7 in Indianapolis, Ind. At each competition level, winners receive cash for a college scholarship.

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