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Oratorical Contest, 2011-2012  

 

The American Legion Oratorical Contest exists to develop deeper knowledge and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution among high school students. The 70-year-old program presents 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. The program has featured numerous politicians and prominent contestants over the years, including former president candidate Alan Keyes and CNN anchor Lou Dobbs.

 

 

Previous National Winner, Co’Relous Bryant, sponsored by Post 137 in 2007.

Oratorical News February 8, 2012
by Oratorical Chairman Meri West

Post 137's Oratorical Contestant, Arun Ponshunmugam, won the District contest on Jan. 19th, 2012! He will represent Post 137 at the Area Contest on Feb. 19th in Crystal River. He gave an excellent speech about the Constitution as a recipe for success.

Arun is a Junior at Stanton. When he's not studying, he likes spending time with prayer groups, tutoring children, and volunteering in the community. He is a member of the National Honor Societies for Math, Science, English and Latin! He is also a member of the Business Leaders of Tomorrow, Brain Brawl, History Bowl, Bible Club and Save Our World Club.

When he graduates from high school, Arun hopes to attend Stanford University and major in Biology, Physics or Chemistry. His goal is to become a Pediatrician.

The District contest was a great success. Our judges were Mark Spain, co-anchor at Fox 30 Action News; Nicole Hatfield, President of the Winn Dixie Toastmaster's Club; Susan Bailey, American Government teacher at Sandalwood High School. Susan was a 2011 winner of the Gladys Prior Award for Excellence in Teaching and ironically, her father was a Post commander in Alabama when she was a child. Her own son attended Boys State and her mother won the Auxilary Volunteer of the Year once in Alabama. Another judge was Youmone Berrien. Youmone is an Instructional Coach at Ribault and she was a 2011 Duval Teacher of the Year . Lastly, we had Melissa Adams. Melissa is Systems Business Analyst with Winn Dixie but she came to us representing the Urban League's Young Professionals Group where she is the current President.

Thanks to all the judges, time keepers, the students and their parents, Legion members and spouses who attended and helped support this program!

 

Oratorical News September, 2011
by Oratorical Chairman Meri West

"And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country."

"I have a dream."

"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

"We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail."

Does any of that sound familiar? It should. These lines are memorable because they were part of great speeches or moments in American history, spoken by great orators. (John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.)

In 1935 another great man, William Kitchen, from Missouri, created and held the first American Legion National High School Oratorical Contest. Mr. Kitchen was a Kansas City attorney, a political associate of Harry S. Truman and a Department Commander of Missouri. In fact, the Truman library houses over 300 pages of personal letters between Mr. Kitchen and then President Truman.

Mr. Kitchen wanted high school students to be encouraged to learn and appreciate more deeply its Constitution and he created the National Oratorical Contest as a way to promote interest and learning. Now, 76 years later, the American Legion continues to host a national contest each year. That's a lot of learning. And more than 3 million in scholarship money has been awarded to winners and participants. And that's a lot of money!

The contest is open to any high school student in grade 9 - 12 who is under the age of 20. This includes students in public or private schools, and home schooled students. The students must give an 8 to 10 minute prepared speech on some aspect of the U.S. Constitution, emphasizing the duties and obligations of our citizens to our government.

As the Oratorical Chairman for Post 137, here is what I have been doing for the program:

Nicole Tolbert, a student at The Art Institute of Jacksonville, is creating a poster for the contest that will be put up in all the schools in our area, as well as public libraries. Nicole is former Clay High School graduate and is pursuing her bachelor's degree in graphic design.

Bob Myers has agreed to contact as many ROTC units as possible to spread the word about the contest.

I personally visited 4 high school classes at Robert E. Lee High School and spoke to 3 teachers and 2 administrators about the program. We discussed the possibility of teachers giving students extra credit for participating in the contest. We developed a mass email list of other teachers who would be in a position to pass along more details to their students in class.

As a result of those visits, I have two strong, potential contestants-both are seniors. One fellow plans to attend the Naval Academy and wants to be an engineer. And a young lady who plans to attend the University of Tampa to study Avionics and become a Navy pilot.

I have contacted radio stations and local TV stations to try to get publicity in the form of Public Service Announcements. I will be following up with them next week with the proper wording of the announcements and hope to get something aired in the near future.

I contacted two Home Schooling organizations-Home Educational Research and Information (HERI) in Jacksonville and Florida Parent Educators Association (FPEA) in Tallahassee. Both were able to get the details about the contest in their September newsletter and both have posted the information on their websites. Those organizations reach over 5000 home schooled students in northeast Florida and more than 60,000 statewide.

We are working on creating a Facebook page and starting to use Twitter to publicize the contest.

A carpenter building a small platform for the students to use when they deliver their speeches.

That is what I've been doing. Here is what YOU could do to support the program-help get the word out to people you know at places you go. Tell anyone. People from church, other social groups, your children, your neighbor, your barber or your hairdresser.

Dates to remember

January 7th, 2012-Post 137 is hosting its contest at the Webb-Wesconnett Library on 103rd St. in the auditorium. It is scheduled to be held from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

January 29th, 2012--The District Contest date will be held in Jacksonville.

February 19th 2012--The Area Contest will be held in Crystal River, FL at Post 155.

March 10th, 2012--The State Finals will be at Department Headquarters in Orlando at 9:00 am.

April 13-15th, 2012--Nationals are April 13-15 in Indiana.

Department (State) Awards are as follows:

First Place: 2500.00
Second Place 1500.00
Third Place: 1000.00
Fourth Place: 500.00
Fifth Place: 500.00
Sixth Place: 500.00

National Awards:

First Place: 18,000
Second Place: 16,000
Third Place: 14,000

List of schools we are working with (some are not in our Post area but they have no other Post representative so I agreed to cover them for the District):


Public Schools:

Paxson School for Advanced Studies
Ed White High School
Nathan B. Forest
Stanton College Prep
Robert E. Lee
Douglas Anderson School of the Arts
Darnell-Cookman Middle-High
Fleming Island High
Baldwin Middle-Senior High
West Nassau County High
Hilliard Middle Senior High

Private Schools:

Arlington Country Day School
First Coast Academy
First Coast Christian
Bolles
Episcopal High
Trinity Christian Academy
University Christian

Meri West is the Oratorical Chairman for the Post and asks you to call, text or email her with any ideas, questions, concerns, comments, suggestions or leads. She extends an offer to you to help personally visit high schools to talk to students and teachers. She will give you the brochures you need and a point of contact at each school. Cell and text: 904-704-0936 and email: meriwest454@gmail.com.

 


PREVIOUS MAJOR NEWS

2007 - Congratulations to Co’Relous Bryant, the first winner of National American Legion Oratorical contest from the State of Florida since 1948.

Congratulations are in order for Co’Relous Bryant who was originally sponsored by Post 137 in the competition for the annual Legion Oratorical contest. This young man is a senior at Stanton College Prep here in Jacksonville. Not only did he win the 5th District title, he won the Northern Area and Department of Florida contest. The icing on the cake is that Co”Relous was successful in winning the National American Legion Oratorical contest. The title of his winning oration: "The Power of the people" won him an $18,000 scholarship. We should all be very proud of this young man who in the year 2006 was also elected Governor of the State of Florida under the Legion Boys State Program.

Co'Relous was born on February 8, 1989 in Perry Florida. His mother's name is Fannie Tensley. She has been a single mother her entire life. They moved around a lot to find a more suitable place to grow educationally and moved to Jacksonville at the age of 9. He Attended Oak Hill Elementary School and he was tested for gifted in the 4th grade. Co'Relous attended Darnell-Cookman Middle School. He applied to Stanton College Prep and has enjoyed it ever since. He fell in love with theatre in the 9th grade and found it to be his preferred vocation. He states: "God has guided me through my entire life and has been the main agent in any and all of the successes that I have had." He plans to attend New York University and then pursue an acting career.

Co'Relous winning speech can be downloaded from this website for your viewing pleasure. This is a large file and it is recommended for those who have a high speed internet connection. winningspeech.wmv

 


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