Students seek American Legion scholarship in oratory contest

Published 7:16 pm Thursday, January 25, 2018

With no notes or prompting from the audience seven high school students from Warren County took the stage Tuesday evening to give prepared speeches on the Constitution’s impact on their lives.

Faye Valerio, a senior at Vicksburg, Alyssa Cabezas, a senior at Vicksburg, Ashley Erves, a senior at Vicksburg, Mary Beth Tingle, a sophomore at Warren Central, Jacob Downey, a freshman at River City, Caitlin Doyle, a sophomore at Warren Central, and Samuel Terrett, a freshman at Warren Central, competed in the American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Contest hosted by Tyner-Ford Post 213 Wednesday.

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Each of the contestants had to give an eight- to 10- minute prepared speech on the Constitution. They then had to give a three- to five-minute speech on an assigned topic after having five minutes to prepare.

“At first I was hesitant because I didn’t know much about the topic, but I was thinking I have done speeches,” Valerio, who was named the winner of the contest said. “I’ve said things in front of people. I can do this I know what I am doing. I will be ok.”

Valerio’s prepared speech was on the importance of being an informed citizen and exercising your right to vote.   

“In today’s world, our challenge isn’t finding the right answers,” she said during her speech. “It is asking the right questions. We should ask the questions so that we can know what is going on. I said we should be vigilant. We should know what is going on in our community, our country and the world so the future will be bright not just for me, but everyone.”

Downey was named the runner-up for his speech on the freedom to protest under the first amendment. Valerio and Downey will advance to the area competition held Feb. 3 in Jackson for a chance to qualify for the state competition.

“I was so nervous,” Valerio said. “I didn’t know if I was going to make the eight-minute mark. That was the biggest thing. It was timed. I got up there, said what I had to say and felt like I was rambling a little bit. As soon as she held up that eight minutes, I was like ‘see yeah, I got it.’”

The topic for the assigned speech was the Second Amendment. It was randomly chosen from topics including Amendments 15 and 3 and Article 2 Section 4 of the Constitution. Each contestant was told the topic and then given five minutes to prepare to give a three- to five-minute speech.

“The topic I didn’t know was a pretty easy topic nowadays because gun violence is a big issue in America right now,” Doyle, who finished third, said. “When they told us what the topics was, I thought maybe I can come up with things about this and I thought about different things that relate to gun violence.”

The four students named honorable mention received $50 scholarships. Doyle received $100, Downey received $200 and Valerio received $300.