By Sandy Meyer
Riverview High School recently hosted the American Legion Alafia Post 148’s Annual High School Oratorical Contest. This is a national American Legion program in existence since it was chartered by Congress in 1919 with the Oratorical contest established in 1938 and offers college scholarships nationwide. The program encourages the nation’s high school students to study the U.S. Constitution and to hone their public speaking skills.
Lindsay McClellan won the contest held at the Riverview High School auditorium. McClellan, 16 years old, earned the American Legion’s Gold Patrick Henry Oratorical Medal, a $100 US Savings bond, and will now compete at the American Legion’s 15th District level against winners of contests from the district’s 16 other American Legion posts on February 4. Contestants will progress to compete for an $18,000, $16,000, and $14,000 college scholarship in April and other cash prizes along the way.
Each contestant delivered a prepared oration as well as an extemporaneous oration on a randomly assigned constitutional amendment topic. McClellan impressed the judges with a speech titled “Learning the Constitution.” The runner-up was Morgan Gardner, 16, of Riverview High School. Third place was Rolando Arellano, 18, of Riverview High School.
Rick Hewett, a member of the American Legion Post 138 realized that there was a need in the South Shore area for this type of contest that provides an increased awareness of our constitution and the attendant rights, duties, and obligations of citizenship.
This is the first year the American Legion Alafia Post 148 has conducted such a contest.
“The Legion is an amazing historic organization filled with numerous community service programs.
Unfortunately, the VFW, American Legion, and other similar groups have the stigma of just being a smokey bar filled with Vietnam vets that are only interested in drinking and telling war stories” said Hewett. “I want to change that impression with real examples of service that people want to be part of. This Oratorical contest was an example,” he added.
American Legion Post 148’s website is http://www.americanlegionalafiapost148.org/.
For information on the contest, please visit www.legion.org/oratorical.