Teens: Apply now for American Legion Oratorical Contest

MADISON – Teenagers in Madison County can share their understanding of the U.S. Constitution by applying for the 2024 American Legion Oratorical Scholarship Contest.

Madison legionnaires hope that interested students will apply soon and then start work on their research and speech.

“High school youth in Madison County can vie for significant cash prizes while showing their knowledge of the U.S. Constitution in the oratorical contest,” Madison American Legion, Post 229 Commander Larry Vannoy 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 understanding duties, responsibilities, rights and privileges of American citizenship,” Vannoy said.

The Alabama Department of the American Legion requires that “all contestants must be bona fide students, herein described as any student under the age of 20 years on the date of the National Contest who are presently enrolled in a high school or junior high school (public, parochial, military, private or state-accredited home school) in which the curriculum of the said school is of high-school level for grades 9-12.” Students must be U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.

Danny J. Marr, Post 229 veteran, is 2024 Madison County Chairman. Marr will confirm that all county schools will receive more contest information in November.

Contest rules require a prepared oration, eight to 10 minutes, in English using some content in the U.S. Constitution of the contestant’s choosing. The oration should emphasize duties and obligations of a U.S. citizen. The contest also requires the contestant to speak without notes for three to five minutes on a constitutional amendment that is randomly drawn during the competition.

The competition’s first level will start on Feb. 10, 2024, at 10 a.m. at Madison City Hall, 100 Hughes Road. Contestants must arrive by 9:30 a.m. for a briefing.

Madison County’s contest winner will advance to 12th District competition on March 2, 2024. The 1st Division contest is scheduled for March 16, 2024, and the Alabama Department’s contest in Montgomery will be held March 30, 2024.

At each level of competition, winners in the top three places will receive monetary awards. Post 229 will award the top three Madison County winners with $500, $300 and $200, respectively.

Winners at the State of Alabama level will be awarded scholarships of $2,500, $1,500 and $1,000 for the top three places, respectively. The Alabama competition’s first-place winner will advance to the national finals on May 17-19, 2024, at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Mich.

“Madison County student Ms. Christine Johnson won the 2023 Alabama State Competition. Our second-place county winner won the Alabama Boys State competition in 2023,” Vannoy said.

The national level includes three levels of competition: Round 1, Round 2 and Final. Each state winner competing in the national contest’s first round will receive a $2,000 scholarship.

Participants in the second round who do not advance to the national final round will receive an additional $2,000 scholarship. At nationals, the top three youth orators who have won all previous elimination rounds of the contest will receive college scholarships of $25,000, $22,500 and $20,000, respectively. For national rules, visit legion.org/oratorical/about.

Madison County students should coordinate with their school officials now to participate. These officials can be their principal, career counselor and/or speech teacher. Students should submit a biographical sketch no later than Feb. 2, 2024, to oratorical@americanlegionpost229.org.

“Space is limited in the event. We’re overwhelmed with interest. Participation will be based on the submission date,” Vannoy said.

Officials will notify selected contestants soon after receipt of their biographical sketches. To contact the Commander, call 256-258-8534 or email commander@americanlegionpost229.org.

For more information, visit americanlegionpost229.org, and click the “Pillar 3: Americanism” tab and “Oratorical Contest.”

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