The High School Oratorical Scholarship Program was started by The American Legion in 1938, said Roy Lantz, the assistant district chairman for the 2014 contest, which is expected to offer this year’s student winners more than $138,000 in scholarships and awards.
Any student in grades 9 to 12 is invited to participate in this year’s competition, which requires students to prepare and present an 8 to 10 minute speech on some aspect of the Constitution, Lantz said.
“No notes. No lectern. Just the kids and their audience,” he said.
They will also be required to prepare another four speeches, 3 to 5 minutes in length, on either a specific article or amendment to the Constitution.
Speakers will talk in front of a panel of judges and other students at competitions throughout the county starting in January.
Once signed up, students independently prepare their speeches, and get ready for the Post 29, Marietta, competition on Jan. 25.
The winner of this event will win $300, and second and third place winners will be awarded $200 and $100, respectively.
On Feb. 17, District 5 will compete, and the top three winners will all walk away with cash prizes of $350, $250 and $150. This competition will include students in parts of Cobb, Cherokee and a number of other surrounding counties, Lantz said.
These winners will move onto a competition on Feb. 24, and the top three winners will be awarded, respectively, $350, $250 and $175 a piece.
Lantz said many of the students have made hundreds of dollars merely speaking about the Constitution.
The state competition will be on March 1, and the first-place winner will take home $1,300 and be invited to the national competition in early April in Indianapolis, where the first-place prize is $18,000.
There are other scholarships for students who make it to the district and state and national level, and more information can be found at www.legion.org.
“These kids have a great time. They grow in poise and leadership and presentation skills and earn a lot of money and make new friends,” Lantz said.
Last year’s competition included 140 student participants, and Lantz hopes 200 students participate this year, which is his fifth year involved in the competition.
To get involved, email Lantz at firstname.lastname@example.org.