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Larry Vannoy, who serves as American Legion Post 229 and District 12 Commander, congratulates Christine Johnson, who won at the county level in the 2022 American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Contest. CONTRIBUTED

Scholarships at stake in American Legion oratorical contest

MADISON – High school youth in Madison City Schools and Madison County Schools can vie for significant cash prizes while showing their knowledge of the U.S. Constitution in the 2023 American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Contest.

“Since 1938, the program has presented participants with an academic speaking challenge that teaches important leadership qualities, 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,” Jean Downs said. Downs serves as Vice Commander of Madison American Legion, Post 229.

American Legion posts across Madison County are inviting high school students to compete in this national speech contest. Contestants must be U.S. citizen, younger than 20 years old and enrolled in a high school or junior high in a public, parochial, military or private district or state-accredited home school.

Contestants must choose a segment of the U.S. Constitution and prepare an 8-to-10-minute oration. The content should emphasize a U.S. citizen’s duties and obligations.

In addition, a contestant must speak for three to five minutes, without notes, about a constitutional amendment that judges draw randomly.

The competition has several steps:

* First level — Jan. 28, 2023, 10 a.m., Madison City Hall, 100 Hughes Road. Winner advances to county level.

* 12th District level — Feb. 11, 2023, 10 a.m., American Legion Post 15, Decatur.

* 1st Division level — Feb. 18, 2023, 11 a.m., Madison City Hall. The winner will advance to State of Alabama Department competition and eventually to the national meet.

At each level, first- through third-place winners will receive monetary awards. Post 229 will award $500, $300 and $200, respectively in the initial contest. District 12 will award similarly.

State of Alabama winners will receive scholarships of $2,500, $1,500 and $1,000, respectively. The state’s first-place winner will advance to national finals on April 21-23, 2023, in Indianapolis, Ind.

The national level includes Round 1, Round 2 and Final. State winners who compete in the first round will receive a $2,000 scholarship.

Second-round participants who do not advance to final round also will receive an additional $2,000 scholarship. The top three youth orators who have won all previous elimination rounds will earn college scholarships of $25,000, $22,500 and $20,000, respectively.

“The 2022 National Oratorical winner from Birmingham was awarded a total of $29,500 in scholarships,” Larry Vannoy said. Vannoy is American Legion Post 229 and District 12 Commander.

Schools in Madison, along with Madison County, will receive contest details. Students can contact their school counselor, principal or speech teacher.

Each city and county school winner must email a brief biographical sketch to oratorical@americanlegionpost229 by Jan. 23, 2023.

For more information, email commander@americanlegionpost229.org or visit legion.org/oratorical.

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