A Constitutional Speech Contest
The American Legion Oratorical Contest exists to develop deeper knowledge and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution among high school students. Since 1938, the program has presented participants with an academic speaking challenge that teaches important leadership qualities, the history of our nation’s laws, the ability to think and speak clearly, and an understanding of the duties, responsibilities, rights and privileges of American citizenship. To date the National American Legion has awarded more than $3,000,000 dollars to students who have participated in The American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Program.
Each year The American Legion Department (state) of Michigan holds and annual contest at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The winner of this contest moves on to the national level to compete for up to $18,000 in scholarships.
How It Works
There are two parts to the contest, the prepared oration and an assigned topic.
Prepared oration: The subject to be used for the prepared oration must be on some aspect of the United States Constitution with emphasis on a citizen’s duties and obligations to our government. (The same subject and oration used in the department contest must be used in the national contest.) The prepared oration must be the original effort of each contestant and must not take up less than 8 minutes or more than 10 minutes for delivery.
The assigned topic: The purpose of the assigned topic is to test the speaker’s knowledge of the subject, the extent of his or her research, and the ability to discuss the topic as related to the basic principles of government under the Constitution. The topic will be on some phase of the Constitution. The assigned topic must not take up less than 3 minutes or more than 5 minutes for delivery. The assigned topic shall be drawn at random by the contest official in full view of the audience.
*All contestants at each contest level are required to speak in English.
2020 Assigned Topics
Amendment XII - Electoral College
Amendment XXIV - Citizens right to vote shall not be denied by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay poll tax or other tax.
Amendment XXVII - No law, varying compensation for the services of Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.
Amendment XX - Terms of President and Vice President. When congress shall assemble. Articles of Presidential succession.
*Please note the above amendment descriptions are abbreviated. For more information on the assigned topic amendments please visit: www.legion.org/oratorical/topics
How do I register?
A: Contestant must register with the American Legion Department of Michigan by November 19, 2019. If you class would like to participate please email American Legion Post 179 at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who is eligible to participate?
A: All contestants must be a U.S. citizen and a bona fide student (described as any student under the age of 20 years) on the date of the national contest. They must be presently enrolled in a high school or junior high school (public, parochial, military, private or state accredited home school) in which the curriculum of said high school is considered to be of high school level, commencing with
grade nine and terminating with grade 12.
What are the scholarship opportunities available?
A: National Level:
1st place - $18,000, 2nd place - $16,000, and 3rd place - $14,000
1st place - $1,500 2nd place - $1,000, and 3rd place - $800
1st place - $200
Varies depending on the post or district. Some give prizes while others do not.
How can I prepare?
- Dress in business attire.
- Watch videos of previous National Oratorical Contest speeches at www.legion.org/oratorical/videos
- Practice, Practice, Practice with a coach. (we can help you find one).
- Watch your timing
- The speech is not about you
- Have a prepared speech for each of the assigned amendments
- Props are not allowed.
- Notes on stage are not allowed
- No microphones will be available.