High School Oratorical Scholarship Program

The High School Oratorical Scholarship Program – “A Constitutional Speech Contest”


The American Legion Oratorical Contest exists to develop deeper knowledge and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution among high school students. The program presents participants with an academic speaking challenge that teaches important leadership qualities, the history of our nation’s laws, the ability to think and speak clearly, and an understanding of the duties, responsibilities, rights and privileges of American citizenship. The program has featured numerous politicians and prominent contestants over the years, including former president candidate Alan Keyes and CNN anchor Lou Dobbs.

Young orators earn some of the most generous college scholarships available to high school students. Over $138,000 in scholarships can be awarded each year. The overall national contest winner gets an $18,000 scholarship. Second place takes home $16,000, and third gets $14,000. Each department (state) winner who is certified into and participates in the national contest’s first round receives a $1,500 scholarship. Those who advance past the first round receive an additional $1,500 scholarship. The American Legion’s National Organization awards the scholarships, which can be used at any college or university in the United States.

High school students under age 20 are eligible. Competition begins at the post level and advances to a state competition. Legion department representatives certify one winner per state to the national contest, where department winners compete against each other in two speaking rounds. The contest caps off with a final round that decides the three top finishers.

Speaking subjects must be on some aspect of the U.S. Constitution, with some emphasis on the duties and obligations of citizens to our government. Speeches are eight to 10 minutes long; three- to five-minute speeches on an assigned topic also are part of the contest.

The contest starts at the local Post level and progresses to a District contest (there are 12 Districts in Georgia), the Area competition (there are four Areas) and the Department, or State Contest. Along the way cash awards and other recognitions are given the participants and winners, and the winner of the State contest may have accumulated as much as $2,200-$2,300 in cash awards. The Post competition generally starts in February of each year and progresses to District, Area and State in subsequent weeks, with the National Contest conducted in mid-April.

If you are a high school student (including homeschooled, military, parochial or Christian high schools) and are interested in competing, contact Mr. David Burdette at: d.burdette@post304.org. You may also visit The American Legion website to view all of the programs available: www.legion.org.

Need To Know Links

Atlanta VA Medical Center
Department of Georgia American Legion
Georgia Department of Veterans Services
The American Legion National Website
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Veterans Crisis Line