American Legion Oratorical contest

What is it, you ask ?

The American legion recently held our oratorical contest here at our legion hall. There is a complete description of this event in this story, courtesy of Gary De Gasta who filled in for me.

Our Legion Hall was the site of the recent oratorical contest

American Legion Oratorical Contest

On Saturday evening, February 2nd, American Legion Lyman F. Pell Post #8 Norwich,  for the very first time, was proud to host the District #5 American Legion Oratorical Contest.  The American Legion 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, the history of our nation’s laws, the ability to think and speak clearly, and an understanding of the duties, responsibilities, rights and privileges of American citizenship. The program has featured numerous politicians and prominent contestants over the years, including former president candidate Alan Keyes and CNN anchor Lou Dobbs.

High school students under age 20 are eligible. Competition begins at the post level and advances to a state competition. Legion department representatives certify one winner per state to the national contest, where department winners compete against each other in two speaking rounds. The contest caps off with a final round that decides the three top finishers.

Speaking subjects must be on some aspect of the U.S. Constitution, with some emphasis on the duties and obligations of citizens to our government. Speeches are eight to 10 minutes long; three- to five-minute speeches on an assigned topic also are part of the contest.

The District #5 winner of this year’s competition was Michael Christensen, a freshman at Sharon Academy.  Contest Oversight was provided by Legionnaire, Karlene Devine , Vergennes,Department of Vermont Oratorical Chairperson.  District #5 Contest Judges included: Jonathan Fenton, a history, civics and English teacher at Marion Cross School, Jim Maguire, PhD. a retired researcher and lecturer for Pall Inc. and COL Gary De Gasta (Ret.), retired Director, VA Medical Center, White River Junction. The Contest Timer was Post #8 Adjutant, Rich Murray. Also participating in the event were Post #8 Commander, Jim Harlow, and Ron Aldrich, Past Commander, Department of Vermont.  Post #8 awarded MIchael a $50 scholarship while his brother and proud parents, both Dartmouth College professors, looked on. Refreshments were prepared and served by Connie Aldrich.  

Following his presentation, contest judges offered Michael constructive feedback and strongly encouraged him to continue to compete and strive to win at the Department (state) level contest which will be held in the Pavilion Building, Montpelier, on March 7th.  Each department winner who is certified into, and participates in, the national contest’s first round receives a $1,500 scholarship. Those who advance past the first round receive an additional $1,500 scholarship. 

Young orators earn some of the most generous college scholarships available to high school students. Over $138,000 in scholarships can be awarded each year. The overall national contest winner gets an $18,000 scholarship. Second place takes home $16,000, and third gets $14,000.  The American Legion’s National Organization awards the scholarships can be used at any college or university in the United States.

The competition at the Post was just that —- a post competition. The 5th District competition will take place later this month in Chester Vermont. Then on 7 March the State (Department) competition will be held.

Goodnight all until the next time

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