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PF American Legion announces oratorical contest

by DEVIN WEEKS
Staff Writer | November 20, 2023 1:00 AM

Communication proficiency isn't just a good quality to have.

"It's a survival skill in this world," Post Falls American Legion Post 143 Oratorical Chairman Vic Parrish said Friday. "Communication skills are absolutely essential — think about what you're going to say, craft what you're going to say and communicate effectively."

Post 143 is inviting high school students from Idaho's five northern counties to participate in the 2023-2024 American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship program competition, "A Constitutional Speech Contest."

Participants will present five- and eight-minute speeches on elements of the U.S. Constitution before a panel of judges Jan. 13 at the Post Falls American Legion. Contestants will receive participation packages after receipt and review of their applications.

Cash scholarships are awarded to the winners at every level of the competition. Local contest winners receive $500, $250 and $100 prizes. State winners receive $1000, $750 and $500 awards. National winners will receive college scholarships of $25,000, $22,500 and $20,000.

National contest first-round competitors receive $2,000 scholarships. National second-round competitors not advancing to the final round receive additional $2,000 scholarships. After winning all previous elimination rounds, the top three orators will compete for the national title May 17, 2024, at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Mich.

The American Legion will pay participant expenses for those who advance to state and national competitions.

Applications to compete must be submitted by Dec. 1.

Contest participation dwindled during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent years, but Parrish said hopes are more students will hear about the competition this year and step up to the challenge. Famous leaders such as former Vice President Mike Pence and conservative activist Alan Keyes both participated in the oratorical contest in their youth. Representing Texas, Keyes won the contest in 1967.

Parrish, who served 22 years in the Navy, said although the skillset the contest builds upon is vital, at the core of the competition is the Constitution.

"It brings people back to the heart of America and that is our Constitution and the Bill of Rights," he said, "being familiar with the Constitution and the foundation of our country."

Visit legion.org/oratorical for info or email Parrish at TopNuke@icloud.com for contest applications.