Three high school orators beat out the intense competition during The American Legion's 77th National High School Oratorical Scholarship Program: "A Constitutional Speech Contest," and are advancing to the championship on Sunday at 10 a.m. (EDT). The finals will be streamed live on www.legiontv.org .
Out of 53 contestants initially competing, the three high school orators advancing to the finals are: Ellen Densmore of Denver; Ashwath Kumar of Columbia, Mo.; and Brandon Posner of Doylestown, Penn.
Densmore, Kumar and Posner will vie for the championship title and the top prize—an $18,000 scholarship. Second- and third-place finishers will receive $16,000 and $14,000 scholarships, respectively.
During the Oratorical finals, each competitor will once again present their prepared oration, as well as an oration on an assigned topic discourse — a phase of the U.S. Constitution selected from Articles and Sections — in front of a panel of six judges, Legionnaires, family and friends.
For the past 77 years, the contest has encouraged young people to develop an understanding and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution, as well as improve communication skills. More than 6,000 high school students compete annually at The American Legion post level for the contest, hoping to advance to the department level for a chance to earn a spot at the national level.
The American Legion National Oratorical Contest has awarded more than $3 million in scholarships since 1937. For the 77th National Oratorical Contest, all 53 orators received a $1,500 scholarship for competing in the quarterfinals, and the nine competitors who advanced to semifinals each received an additional $1,500 scholarship.