Jack Smith of Milford took first place in The American Legion Department of Michigan Annual Oratorical Contest on Saturday, March 6, at Lansing’s department headquarters. Jack competed against three other high school students from around the state.
Jack is a senior from Detroit Catholic Central High School in Novi. He represented the 3rd Zone of American Legion Posts. His prepared speech was titled “Popular Sovereignty: The People’s Government.”
The oratorical contest is a competition held each year, with contestants beginning in December and January competing at a local American Legion Post. Post contest winners advance to the district level and then to the zone level. The five-zone winners then compete at the department contest to determine the winner. The winner then represents the department at the National Oratorical Contest in Indianapolis in April. Due to the pandemic, The American Legion National Headquarters has canceled the national contest this year. Jack will receive a $5,000 scholarship from The American Legion for being the department winner in place of the national competition, in addition to the $3,000 scholarship the department will send him.
Ella Enquist, a senior from Big Rapids High School, came in second place in the competition with her prepared speech of “The Challenge of Citizenship.” Ella will receive a $2,000 scholarship from the department.
The oratorical contest requires each contestant to give two speeches centered on the U.S. Constitution. The first speech is a prepared 8-10 minute oration on some aspect of the United States Constitution, emphasizing a citizen’s duties and obligations to our government. The second oration is an assigned topic based on one of four constitutional amendments determined last August. One of the four amendments is selected from cards, and each contestant has five minutes to prepare to speak on the topic for three to five minutes.
The assigned topic for the department contest selected was Article III, section 1, which establishes the U.S. Supreme Court, and the judicial system.
Paul Prokhorov, a sophomore from Green Hills High School in Ann Arbor, placed third, and Sophia Hugh, a senior from Grosse Pointe South High School in Grosse Pointe, placed fourth. Each will receive a scholarship for $1,600.
High school students who want to compete in the 2022 competition can register their intent to compete at www.michiganlegion.org/oratorical.
The American Legion Department of Michigan is the largest Veterans Service Organization in the state, with over 65,000 members.