The American Legion Oratorical Contest exists to develop deeper knowledge and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution among high school students. Since 1938, the program has presented 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, and rights and privileges of American citizenship.
The program has featured numerous politicians and prominent contestants over the years, including former presidential candidate Alan Keyes, national television commentator and talk radio host Lou Dobbs, and former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.
The 22nd District Department of Texas American Legion hosted its Annual Oratorical Program Contest for its 12 posts in Houston. The contestants included Daniel Rupawalla from Obra D. Tompkins High School and Tyler Crivella from Seven Lakes High School both sent in by American Legion Post 164 in Katy, Texas. In an extremely close contest, the judges declared Daniel Rupawalla the winner and he will receive a $500 scholarship and move forward to the Division Level.
Young orators can earn some of the most generous college scholarships available to high school students. Over $203,500 in scholarships can be awarded each year. The overall national contest winner gets a $25,000 scholarship. Second place takes home $22,500, and third gets $20,000. Each department (state) winner who is certified into and participates in the national contest’s first round receives a $2,000 scholarship. Those who advance past the first round receive an additional $2,000 scholarship. The American Legion’s National Organization awards the scholarships, which can be used at any college or university in the United States.
Pictured Left to Right: Tyler Crivella and Daniel Rupawalla
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.
Legionnaires Pictured Left to Right: Harry Woodstrom, Commander of the 22nd District Department of Texas, Jim McGuire, Adjutant and Ted Whiteman from Post 164 (contest escort)
The American Legion is a service organization comprised of war-time veterans and was founded in 1919 in Indianapolis, Indiana and has gone on to create an illustrious history established on four pillars – Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation, National Security, Americanism, and Children & Youth.
The 22nd District Department of Texas American Legion is comprised of 12 posts serving approximately 4,400 members and communities from Katy and South Houston to Pasadena. For more information on each post, their meeting times, and locations please visit: