75th Annual American Legion High School Oratorical National Fina

Rebecca Frazer at last year�s national finals at the 75th Annual American Legion High School Oratorical National Finals in Indianapolis, Sunday, April 15, 2012.

Tom Strattman

Hosted for the second year at the Ahwatukee Recreation Center, the American Legion invites the community to the state finals for an oratorical speech contest on the Constitution tomorrow.

This year, six students from around the state will be competing for the chance to win $1,500 in the first round, which leads up to nationals accompanied by a grand prize scholarship of $18,000.

High school students under age 20 are eligible to compete.

Students study the Constitution in depth and list four main topics for each competition, though they are given only one topic to address. In addition, contestants cannot use any notes, podiums or cards.

“It’s not easy, these kids study the government and the Constitution so hard, hopeful they’ll make it to the next round,” said department chair Roger Munchbach.

In the 76 years the contest has been around, Arizona took the national title most recently about 15 years ago. The American Legion is the country’s largest veterans service organization, mentoring youth and advocating patriotism, among other duties. The high school scholarship program aims to teach qualities like the ability to think and speak clearly, and an understanding of the rights and privileges of American citizenship, according to the organization’s website.

Open to the public, the state finals will begin around 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 2 at the Ahwatukee Recreation Center, 5001 E. Cheyenne Drive, with light food and refreshments available after 9 a.m. The event is free to attend.

“It basically shows support for our way of government,” Munchbach said of the oratorical contest.

For more information, visit legion.org/oratorical.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dmartinez@ahwatukee.com. Follow her on Twitter @dmartinezAFN.

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