2024 Post Level Oratorical Contest
(click each image to enlarge)
Contestants, Sponsors, Volunteers, and Judges
Mark Twain once quipped, 'It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.' There’s no doubt that participants of The American Legion 86th Annual High School Oratorical Scholarship Program put in at least that much time for their spectacular presentations on the timeless ideals enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. Invitations went out to all South Carolina high schools in October 2023 for this contest which aims to open doors to educational and leadership training opportunities.
Designed to give high school students an understanding and appreciation of the U.S. Constitution, young orators vie for scholarships awarded by The American Legion's National Organization for use at any U.S. college or university. The journey begins at the level of your local American Legion post wherever you live in the state, with the winners proceeding to the quadrant and state levels until reaching the national-level stage. The stakes are high with the overall national winner taking home a $25,000 scholarship, while second and third place earn $22,500 and $20,000, respectively. Winners begin accruing scholarship awards starting at the quadrant level, increasing with each advancement.
This year’s local-level contest had three hosts: American Legion Post 30 from Edgefield, Post 71 from North Augusta, and Post 154 from Johnston. William Seigler from North Augusta High School and Piper Kerlin from Koinonia Co-op in Graniteville stood confidently before a room filled with eager listeners gathered at the Edgefield United Methodist Church on Saturday, January 20, 2024. Their eloquent addresses demonstrated their unique perspectives on the U.S. Constitution with an emphasis on citizens' duties and obligations to our republic. To maximize the benefit for our competitors, we invited four seasoned Toastmasters to serve as judges and, following the presentations, they generously gave individual feedback that will prove invaluable as these orators advance to the quadrant level.
Our heartfelt gratitude to the Edgefield United Methodist Church for hosting us and our deepest thanks to our judges—Toastmasters Ronald Baker, Jackie Brooks, Eric Ray, and Eldon Smith—for graciously volunteering their time, expertise, and mentorship to our contestants. It wouldn’t have been a success without the teamwork of our sponsors and volunteers, namely Post 30’s Winston Boddie, Micki Pennington, Suzanne Spurgeon, and Myrna Shoffner; Post 71’s Jeff Baumgardner, Tommy Tucker, and Janet Baumgardner; and Post 154’s Chris Clancy.
The annual contest is open to youth enrolled in high school grades nine through twelve, encompassing public, parochial, military, or home school settings. We’d love to work with you to start a program in your school soon, preparing your students for next year’s competition. Kindly reach out to American Legion Post 30 at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your interest and engagement contribute to the vitality of this community initiative, and we look forward to welcoming aspiring participants in the contests to come.