It is mid-August and the Department Constitutional Speech Contest is about 7 months away. The contest is scheduled for the weekend of March 22-23, 2024, at Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake. Has your Post, Unit, Squadron or Chapter started the process of recruiting a contestant yet? You’ll notice I included the Legion, Auxiliary, Riders and SAL in my question. That is because anyone in the American Legion Family can, and should, sponsor a student to enter our contest. The deadline to enter the contest is February 4, 2024.
We realize that with the ongoing Department situation, getting information out may continue to be challenging this year. There are highly motivated students in many areas of your local high school and others are home schooled. Do your best to reach out to students, teachers and counselors. You can usually go to the school website and look up the contact information for teachers, club advisors and counselors; then email them. Some other good places to find contestants are Speech and Debate Clubs, Civics or Drama Clubs, JROTC and the FFA public speaking program. For the most part the young people in these organizations have already overcome their fear of public speaking. Another good place might be the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Campfire and Church youth programs. Then there are the Young Republican, Young Democrat and Junior State of America clubs. These students are obviously interested in the constitution, or they probably would not have joined these particular groups. Also, did you know Toastmasters has a public speaking program for students too?
Don’t neglect the private schools in your area! Also, look for homeschool organizations in your local area. You can find information about them on the Washington Homeschool organization at https://washhomeschool.org/homeschooling/support-groups-co-ops/
If you sponsored a contestant for the 2023 contest, and they have not graduated from High School yet, be sure to contact them about participating this coming year … and ask them to invite their friends to participate too!
Who is eligible for our contest? American Citizens, or lawful permanent residents, in grades 9 thru 12 who are enrolled in a public or private high school or are home schooled students whose curriculum is of the high school level.
What is the cost to the contestant? There is never any cost to the contestant to enter our contest. There is a $150 entry fee to be paid by the sponsoring Post/Unit/Squadron/Chapter. These fees are used to pay travel and lodging expenses for the contestants and their chaperones, and help to defray other contest expenses such as the facility rental. In case you’re wondering, the contest staff travels at their own expense; their only reimbursed expense is the hotel for the required overnight stay.
Where can I get more information? The best source of information is our contest website, www.WAConstitutionalSpeechContest.org. After checking the website if you still have questions, please contact your District Chairman. If you still have questions feel free to contact your Department chairman, Carol Reed, via email at email@example.com or at 206-683-5950.
It takes time to prepare an award-winning speech so give these young people the time they need by starting now. Don’t forget the purpose of this contest is to encourage the youth of America to study the U.S. Constitution and be able to speak clearly and confidently on the subject.
Here in Washington, we will give away $5,000 in scholarship funds at our Department finals. The Department champion will travel to Hillsdale, Michigan for the National finals in May of 2024. Over $203,500 in scholarships can be awarded each year at the National Finals Contest. The overall national contest winner gets a $25,000 scholarship. Second place takes home $22,500, and third gets $20,000. Each 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.
Note: We cannot successfully conduct this program without help from YOU! If you are willing to help as a chairperson at your Post, Unit, Squadron, Chapter or District level, please fill out and submit the form below: