Post 555 hosts oratorical contest for area students

PELHAM – American Legion Post 555 hosted the Second Division American Legion Oratorical Contest on Saturday, March 4, at Pelham First Baptist Church.

The competition featured four American Legion divisions from throughout Alabama, said Post Commander Barry Blount. Four students participated in the competition.

The first place winner was 11th-grader Davornne Lindo from Central High School in Phenix City. Second place went to 12th-grader Marlie Wells from Tuscaloosa High School, and the third place winner was 12th-grader Rae’Mah Henderson from Everest Academy in Birmingham. Pelham High School 11th-grader Mason Herrington placed fourth. The top three winners received scholarship money.

The judges were: retired Army Maj. Gen. James Darden, retired Army Maj. Gen. Stuart Dyer, retired Army Col. Cornelius Easter, Pelham City Councilwoman Mildred Lanier and Ann Wright, president of Birmingham Shelter.

The competition decided which contestants would go on to compete in the state competition, which was held on Saturday, March 11, at the state capitol.

Participants had to prepare and present a presentation about the constitution that was eight to 10 minutes in length. Students were challenged to find creative storytelling methods to present the constitution.

There’s scholarship money available at each level of the contest. The amount of scholarship money awarded at the district and division level competitions vary, but students have a chance to win $1,000 to $3,000 at the state competition. At the national finals, $14,000 to $18,000 is on the table. A total of $138,000 is awarded to students through the program.

“A lot of kids don’t realize the benefits of participating in a program like this,” Blount said. “What you get out of it all depends on how hard you want to work.”

The American Legion hosts oratorical contests every year. The program is open to public, private or homeschooled Pelham students ninth through 12th grade who are under the age of 20, as well as to students in surrounding cities, such as Alabaster and Helena. Students must be U.S. citizens or lawful U.S. residents.