Teenager orators earn American Legion awards

MADISON – High school students across Madison County participated in the annual Madison County High School Oratorical Scholarship Program.

American Legion sponsors the contest, which was held at Madison City Hall on Jan. 27. Legionnaires supplied contest material to students at 29 public and private high schools in Madison County.

“This year, six local high school seniors competed in the county-level contest representing Bob Jones High School, Sparkman High School and Providence Classical High School,” Tom McKinney said. McKinney was contest coordinator and serves as Americanism Committee Chair for Madison American Legion, Post 229.

Winning students were Laura Charlotte Underwood, first-place winner of gold medal, $300, Providence Classical High School; Ryan Brewer Williams, second place, silver medal, $200, Bob Jones High School; and Paul St. John Lamey Jr., third place, bronze medal, $100, Providence.

“The contest exists to develop deeper knowledge and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution among high school students,” McKinney said.

“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. Each year, more than $138,000 in scholarships is available.

Speech topics must relate to the U.S. Constitution. Speeches last for 8 to ten minutes.

Winners in the county contest advanced to the District 12 contest on Feb. 17. Laura Charlotte Underwood, of Providence Classical High School was the first-place winner. Andre McCaffrey, Holly Pond High School won second place. District 12 covers Cullman, Blount, Limestone, Madison and Morgan counties.

District winners advance to First Division competition in Decatur. The Department of Alabama competition is scheduled for March 10 in Montgomery. Indianapolis, Ind. will host national finals on April 13-15.

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