During the American Legion Oratorical Conference with department program chairmen on Sept. 24, Department of North Carolina Oratorical Chairman Joseph Reale Sr., shared a few ways to promote the Legion’s Constitutional speech contest among high school students.
“We need to reach out to all the various school systems that are out there. And try to get in the door with all of them,” he said. For homeschool students, Reale said each county should have a homeschool point of contact. “You can reach out to that individual and they have the rosters of all the homeschool students in that county. We need to use every means available to get into every type of school system that’s out there.”
Reale shared the following ways that can help promote the program:
· Visit high schools at the beginning of the year and bring Oratorical Contest flyers or brochures to history, English and speech educators. And discuss the scholarship money that students can earn through the program to help with college education – scholarships are available at the post, district and department level. The national competition awards over $203,000.
· Introduce yourself to the school principal, counselors and JROTC instructors.
· Invite educators to your post oratorical competition. “They get to see it live, hopefully feel good about it, and they will then become your spokesperson at the high school level and get more interested in it,” Reale said.
· Advertise in the school newspaper and the local paper and radio.
· Attend PTA meetings to share with parents the scholarship benefits of the oratorical program.
· Invite oratorical winners to speak at your post about their experience with the program. “Use them as your best sales representatives at the schools that they come from,” Reale said. “No one is going to be more enthusiastic than they are to tell their friends and other students what this meant to them.”
· Invite other civic organizations to your post to meet oratorical winners and disseminate program information. Or take your oratorical winner to other organizations to speak, like the Kiwanis.
Attendees had an opportunity to share their best practices as well. They were to:
· Use social media to promote the program, including creating a separate LinkedIn profile just for the oratorical contest.
· Attend eighth grade graduations where parents will be to speak about the program, so they are aware of it as their child prepares for high school.
· Ask high school student government presidents to read a quick blurb about the oratorical program during morning announcements to generate more interest. This is what Department of Florida Oratorical Chairman Mary West has done in Jacksonville.