Annual Oratorical Contest
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Minnesota State Oratorical Contest
February 21, 2014

Contact Department Headquarters, Randy Tesdahl or Jennifer Kelley for more information on this year's contest.

If you are not a resident of the state of Minnesota, contact your local American Legion Post or your State Headquarters for information on the Oratorical Contests in your state.

Minnesota 2014 Oratorical Rules in PDF format

2014 National High School Oratorical Contest Rules


The four finalists in The American Legion Department of Minnesota Contest receive sholarships which may be used to attend any post secondary educational institution in the Unites States. The winner receives $1500; runner-up $1000; 3rd place $700; 4th place $500.




LOCAL: Local contest should be held prior to January 15, 2014. Notes and prompting is permitted at the local contests if all are treated in a like manner. The extemporaneous feature is not required at the local contest. Each public, parochial, military or private high school is eligible to conduct an elimination contest to name a local champion.

The American Legion Post serving the area will assist in the local contest and should be contacted if they do not contact you.

National Rules

General Information
The purpose of The American Legion's National High School Oratorical Contest is to develop a deeper knowledge and appreciation of the Constitution of the United States on the part of high school students. Other objectives of the contest include the development of leadership qualities, the ability to think and speak clearly and intelligently, and the preparation for acceptance of the duties and responsibilities, the rights and privileges of American citizenship


Scholarship awards are presented to the three finalists in the Final Round of the National contest as follows: 1st place -- $18,000; 2nd place --$16,000; 3rd place -- $14,000. Each Department (State) winner who is certified into and participates in the first round of the National Contest will receive a $1,500 scholarship. Each first round winner who advances to and participates in the second round, but does not advance to the Final Round, will receive an additional $1,500 scholarship to pursue education beyond high school.

The scholarships awarded by the National Organization of The American Legion to the three finalists, to the Department winners, and to the first round winners who are eliminated during the second round of competition may be used to attend any college or university in the United States. Funds for the scholarships awarded by the National Organization are provided by The American Legion Life Insurance Fund.

In addition to the scholarships award by the National Organization, there are several hundred scholarships awarded at the discretion of the intermediate organizations, to participants at Post, District or County, and Department levels of competition.


Department Contests
Arrangements for contests leading to the Department Finals shall be the responsibility of each Department (State) organization of The American Legion. For those levels of competition prior to the Department Finals, the rules and regulations to follow are not mandatory; they are offered as a guideline. However, all Department Finals Contests shall conform with National Contest procedures, rules and regulations.

A winner certified to the National Americanism and Children & Youth Division of The American Legion by a Department which did not conduct its final competition in conformity with the rules and regulations as set forth therein may, in the judgment of the Director, Americanism and Children & Youth Division, or his representative, be disqualified from competition in the National Contest.

Each Department may certify one (1) contestant into the National Contest. If for any reason the Department Winner is unable to compete in the National Contest, the Department First runner-up may be substituted following approval by The American Legion's National Americanism Commission. A Department First runner-up accepted into National Competition will be entitled to all National awards, entitlements and compensation that the Department Winner would have received had he/she participated at that level.

For information about the Oratorical Contests in your state, contact your local American Legion Post or your State Headquarters.


Eligible participants in The American Legion National High School Oratorical Contest shall be citizens of or lawful permanent residents of the United States.

All contestants must be bona fide students herein described as any student under the age of twenty (20) years on the date of the National Contest who is presently enrolled in a high school or junior high school (public, parochial, military, private or state home school) in which the curriculum of said high school is considered to be of high school level, commencing with grade nine (9) and terminating with grade twelve (12). Students must be enrolled in high school or junior high school during the time of participation at any level of The American Legion National High School Oratorical Contest.

The three finalists of the National Contest will be ineligible for further participation at any level.


The Oration
The Prepared Oration must be on some aspect of the Constitution of the United States with emphasis on the duties and obligations of a citizen to our government. The same subject and oration used in the Department Contest must be used in the National Contest.

Contestants may have in their possession a copy of their Prepared Oration in the First Holding Room. They may consult the copy of their Prepared Oration, until they exit the holding room in order to begin the contest, at which time the copy of the Prepared Oration will be surrendered to the contest official who is monitoring the First Holding Room.

In the Prepared Oration, as well as in the Assigned Topic Discourse, quotations must be indicated as such. Where quotations are more than ten words in length, the author's name must be given in the manuscript and cited orally.

It is acceptable to utilize or incorporate short phrases of a foreign language into the Prepared Oration and/or Assigned Topic in order to develop the argument, establish a point, etc. It is to be understood that the vast majority of the Prepared Oration and/or Assigned Topic must still be delivered in the English language.

A contestant must give both their Prepared Oration and the Assigned Topic Discourse in order to receive the scholarship moneys they are entitled to.


Assigned Topic
The Assigned Topic Discourse must not consume less than three (3) minutes or more than five (5) minutes for delivery. The purpose of the Assigned Topic Discourse is to test the speakers knowledge of the subject, the extent of his or her research, and the ability to discuss the topic as related to the basic principles of government under the Constitution.

The Assigned Topic shall be drawn by the contest official in full view of the audience immediately before the last speaker begins delivery of his/her Prepared Oration and will be made known to the audience and each contestant approximately five (5) minutes prior to the time of delivery. The topic will be on some phase of the Constitution of the United States, selected from Articles and Sections as listed under Assigned Topics for the current years contest.

All contestants at each contest level are required to speak in the English language on the same Assigned Topic.

What to Wear
Uniforms are not permitted. Appropriate business attire is required by all contestants. Contestants are not permitted to wear awards and medals from previous competitions

Travel Expenses
The National Organization of The American Legion will pay the travel and lodging expenses of Department Winners and their chaperones to the National Contest. All contestants must be accompanied by a chaperone over 21 years of age.

The National Organization of The American Legion will not assume liability for personal injury, property damage or loss sustained by any contestant or chaperone en route to or from the contest; however, The American Legion does carry a nominal group accident insurance policy on contestants certified into the National competition. Contestants will travel by an air carrier selected by The American Legion.


TV and Radio
Live television and radio broadcasts are permitted in all contests as well as filming, taping or other types of media for later showing, provided:

1) the lighting and other site conditions are the same for all contestants;

2) the filming or broadcasts shall in no way distract the contestants or interfere with the preannounced scheduled time of the contest;

3) the normal speaking voice of the contestant is not interfered with or amplified within the auditorium; and

4) The American Legion is in no way financially obligated without its prior approval.

Contest Regulations
A drawing shall be held by the official in charge of the contest to determine the order in which the contestants will appear. The Contest Chairman shall announce the title of the contestant's prepared oration immediately after introducing him/her as Contestant No. 1, Contestant No. 2, etc. The chairman will request the audience to refrain from applause until the Judges have made their decision.

A raised platform is not compulsory; however, it is strongly recommended. The use of notes, amplification, lectern or speaker's stand by contestants or prompting in any manner is NOT permitted. Props are NOT permitted.

The time allotted for each contestant to deliver their Prepared Oration shall not be less than eight (8) or more than ten (10) minutes and for the Assigned Topic, not less than three (3) or more than five (5) minutes.

An official timer shall be named by the Contest Chairman whose duty it shall be to keep an accurate time record of each contestant, and he shall be located on the main floor in full view of the contestants. The timekeeper shall begin timing each contestant at the start of the Prepared Oration. The timer should be equipped with a stopwatch and time cards for the Prepared Oration carrying the figures 8, 9 and 10. When eight minutes have been used, the time warning card with the figure 8 thereon shall be placed in full view of the speaker, following with 9 and 10 as the speaker progresses. The same procedure shall be used with cards bearing 3, 4 and 5 during the Assigned Topic Discourse. The Contest Chairman shall announce the time consumed by each contestant for the Prepared Oration and the Assigned Topic immediately after each contestant speaks for the benefit of the Judges.

Contestants are required to remain in a private room where the discourse of the other speakers cannot be heard until it is their turn to speak (contestants will be under the supervision of an individual appointed by the Contest Chairman). As the contestants conclude their Prepared Orations, they must return to a soundproof waiting room. As each speaker concludes his or her Assigned Topic Discourse, they shall not be allowed to associate with contestants who have not fulfilled the Assigned Topic requirement.

Approximately five minutes prior to the time of the delivery of the Assigned Topic Discourse, Contestant No. 1 will be informed of the topic drawn for the Assigned Topic and shall be permitted to retire to privacy under the direction of an individual appointed by the Contest Chairman, whose duty it shall be to see that no contestant is permitted to consult any text matter or notes having any connection with the subject matter upon which he/she is to speak, other than the actual words of the topic provided on the card drawn.

Each succeeding contestant will be called upon in the order in which he/she previously appeared. He/She shall also, in turn, be informed of the topic of the Assigned Topic Discourse and shall then be escorted to privacy in the manner as provided for Contestant No. 1.


The judges are a very integral part of the Oratorical Contest. Their qualifications are considered carefully as the decision of the judges is final and must be reached without bias. Impartial judging in all contests is the key to fairness and success of the program which results in the selection of a National Champion.

All Department Finals and the National Contest must utilize five judges. No publicity shall be given to the names of the judges in advance of the contest. During the contest, the judges will be seated in different locations in the auditorium and each judge shall render his or her final decision without consultation with other judges or any other person.

Judges will be advised that a lack of emphasis in the Prepared Oration and the Assigned Topic Discourse on the attendant duties and obligations of a citizen must result in their downgrading the contestant involved. Judges are permitted to downgrade a contestant up to a maximum of ten (10) points for failure to speak on the Constitution. The Contest Chairman will announce any violation of time for each contestant. A penalty of one point for each minute, or fraction thereof, shall be assessed against the contestant's total score.

The judges, timekeepers, tabulators and the Contest Chairman, following the last Assigned Topic Discourse, may proceed to a private room for final review and tabulation.

The Contest Chairman will appoint no less than three tabulators for the Department Finals contest. It will be their responsibility to review the judges' scorecards to be certain they are fully tabulated and signed before they are submitted for final tabulation.

Judges' scorecards for Department Finals and the National Contest will not be divulged to anyone at the site of the contest. All National Contest judges' scorecards become the property of The American Legion National Headquarters.

For More Information
Individuals interested in learning more about the National High School Oratorical Contest should contact the following office of The American Legion: Department of Minnesota, 20 W. 12th St., Room 300A, St. Paul. MN 55155-2000 (651) 291-1800, Toll Free (866) 259-9163 or e-mail us at E-MAIL.

For dates, sites and deadline information concerning local, district and state level competition, individuals should contact the local American Legion Post or their respective State Headquarters Office.

The tentative dates for the 2013 national finals contest are April 19-21 in Indianapolis. Our longtime host, University Place Hotel & Conference Center, has announced that it is being transitioned into a student housing facility for Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis. Therefore, a new site for the Oratorical Contest national finals is yet to be determined. Quarterfinal and semifinal contests will tentatively be scheduled for Saturday, April 20, with the championship contest tentatively scheduled for Sunday, April 21.

All contestants and chaperones will arrive the Friday of the contest weekend. All contestants and chaperones will stay at the official contest hotel.

A mandatory pre-contest orientation session for all contestants will take place the Friday evening of the contest weekend. A banquet honoring all contestants will be Sunday afternoon, following the national championship contest. All contestants and chaperones will depart for home later that afternoon.

 For information concerning the National Contest, contact the National Headquarters of The American Legion.  The National High School Oratorical Contest web page


If you are interested in receiving additional information about theNational High School Oratorical Contest in Minnesota, please write to:

 The American Legion, Department of Minnesota
20 W. 12th Street,  Room 300A
 St. Paul, MN 55155-2000
 (651) 291-1800     Toll Free  (866) 259-9163               


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