Participants of the Legion's High School Oratorical Scholarship Program prepare for their orations. Photo by Tom Strattman.

Competitors set for 75th Oratorical finals

The American Legion's 75th High School Oratorical Scholarship Program, "A Constitutional Speech Contest," got under way Saturday morning with 52 of the nation's top orators, but only three have been selected to compete in the championship finals on Sunday. The finals will be aired live at 10:00 a.m. (EDT) via

The three finalists include Charles Baines of Meridian, Idaho; Rebecca Frazer of Morgantown, Ind.; and John Donaldson IV of Eden Prairie, Minn.

Baines, Frazer and Donaldson advanced through Saturday's quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, and will now vie for first place and an $18,000 scholarship on Sunday at the University Place Conference Center & Hotel in Indianapolis. Besides the $18,000 top award, the second- and third-place finishers receive $16,000 and $14,000 scholarships, respectively. 

In addition to Baines, Frazer and Donaldson, six other contestants advanced to semifinals. They were Audrea Taylor of El Cajon, Calif.; Tayanna Todd of Monument, Colo.; Athena Saldanha of Schaumberg, Ill.; Alex Whitney of Minden, Neb.; Caroline McKenzie of Wilmington, Ohio; and Ryan McDonald of Chesapeake, Va.

Since 1938, the Legion's Oratorical program has encouraged young adults to better understand the Constitution and the importance of it, all while improving the ability to think and speak clearly. Additionally, the Oratorical program has awarded more than $2 million in scholarships to participants.