Since 1938, when John Janson of Arizona won the first National American Legion Oratorical

Competition, no Maine high school student has ever won the contest.  The competition offers an

$18,000 scholarship for first place, $16,000 for second, $14,000 for third place and $1,500 to each of the students who make it to the final round.  Winners at the state level win $1,500 and an all-expense trip to Indianapolis to participate in the national contest. The second place award is $500, third is $300 and $125 for fourth.

To participate, students must prepare and present an oration on some aspect of the Constitution of the United States. The oration must last 8-10 minutes followed by a 3-5 minute impromptu verbal oration on a randomly chosen topic relating to the Constitutional amendments. Participants make their presentations without notes or props.The competition at local and District levels will take place in January followed by state competition at  on Feb. 15 at Thomas College in Waterville. Snow date is a week later.

Last year five students participated at the State level.  Emma Schalk, a home schooled student from the Sabattus area, became a national finalist. Emma’s sister won the state competition the year before.

This year affords participants a greater opportunity to become the first student from Maine to win both the state and national competitions.  Interested students should act quickly to be ready to participate at the local level by the third week in January.

Any high school junior or senior who wishes to participate may obtain  information by calling Patrick Eisenhart, chairman of the public relations committee, Maine American Legion, at 623-4839; Don Chase, chairman, oratorical contest committee, Maine American Legion, at 377-8326 or at any local American Legion Post.

For additional information, go to legion.org/oratorical.