AUGUSTA — Fitzgerald Cummings American Legion Post 2 challenges Kennebec County high school students to compete in its annual oratorical contest set for 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19, at 294 Capitol St. Students stepping up to the challenge can call 623-4839 to be put on the list of contestants.

“No Maine high school student has ever won the American Legion National Oratorical Contest since its inception 78 years ago” Post Commander Patrick Eisenhart said in a news release from Post 2. “We would like to see some student from Kennebec County become the first national champion.”

“In each of the last three years, Maine came close to winning when Portland High sophomore Oona MacKinnon-Hoban became a semi-finalist as did home-schooled sisters Victoria and Emma Schalk from Sabbatus,” Eisenhart said.

Eisenhart explained that 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.

High school students younger than 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.

Young orators earn some of the most generous college scholarships available to high school students. More than $138,000 in scholarships can be awarded each year. The overall national contest winner receives an $18,000 scholarship. Second place takes home $16,000, and third gets $14,000. Each department (state) winner who is certified into and participates in the national contest’s first round receives a $1,500 scholarship, according to the release. Those who advance past the first round receive an additional $1,500 scholarship. The American Legion’s National Organization awards the scholarships, which can be used at any college or university in the United States.

State competition will take place on Feb. 13, 2016, at Thomas College, 180 West River Road in Waterville, with a snow date Feb. 20, 2016.

The 2016 National Finals is April 15-17, in Indianapolis, at the Wyndham Indianapolis West. Quarterfinal and semifinal contests are scheduled for Saturday, April 16, with the finals scheduled for Sunday, April 17.


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