High School Oratorical Program

A Constitutional Speech Contest

The purpose of The American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Program is to develop a deeper knowledge and appreciation of the Constitution of the United States among high school students. Other objectives of the contest include the development of leadership qualities, the ability to think and speak clearly and intelligently, and the preparation for acceptance of the duties and responsibilities, rights, and privileges of American citizenship.

2018 - 2019 District and Area Contest Dates
District Date Time Contact Info Location Info
1 1/6/2019 1:30-3:30 PM Wayne Fraunholtz
Bethany Lutheran Church
237 S 2nd Street
West Branch, IA  52358
2 1/6/2019 2 PM Ron Tyne
Veterans Memorial Coliseum
50 2nd Ave Bridge
Cedar Rapids, IA  52401
3 1/6/2019 2 PM Marvin Behrens
Nugent-Demuth American Legion Post #714
1110 Sixth Street
Gilbertville, IA  50634
4 12/30/2018
Snow: 1/6/2019
2 PM Dennis Soppe
Trinity Lutheran Church
116 West Wilbur St
Hawkeye, IA  52147
5 No contestants this year.
6 12/30/2018 2 PM Stan Merrell
Southeast Warren Jr. Sr. High School
16331 Tyler St.
Liberty Center, IA  50145
7 1/6/2019 2 PM Joe Jardon
Wilson Performing Arts Center
300 Commerce Drive
Red Oak, IA  51566
8 12/29/2018
Snow: 1/6/2019
1 PM Marvin Carr
Zion Lutheran Church
1003 Church St.
Gowrie, IA  50543
9 1/6/2019 2 PM James Kessler
Harris-Lake Park Jr.-Sr. High School
905 South Market St.
Lake Park, IA 51347


Area Date Time Contact Info Location Info
(Districts: 1, 5 & 6)
*Bold and underline indicates host district.
Snow Date: 1/20/2019
2 PM Stan Merrell
Pella Memorial Building
829 Broadway Street
Pella, IA  50219
(Districts: 2, 3 & 4)
*Bold and underline indicates host district.
1/13/2019 2 PM Ron Tyne
Veterans Memorial Coliseum
50 2nd Ave Bridge
Cedar Rapids, IA  52401
(Districts: 7, 8 & 9)
*Bold and underline indicates host district.
Snow Date: 1/20/2019
2 PM Marvin Carr
Charter Oak-Ute Community School
321 Main Street
Charter Oak, IA  51439

Download a copy of the PDF here.


Eligible participants in the contest shall be citizens of or lawful permanent residents of the United States.

All contestants must be bona fide students herein described as any student under the age of 20 years on the date of the national contest who is presently enrolled in a high school or junior high school (public, parochial, military, private or homeschool), commencing with grade 9 and terminating with grade 12. Students must be enrolled in high school or junior high school during the time of participation at any level of the contest.

High school students that graduate early during the school year are eligible to compete if they are not enrolled in a college, university, trade school or other institution of higher learning at the time of the department finals contest.

Contestants must either be legally domiciled within or attend an educational institution within the department (state) where they enter the competition. Contestants can enter the competition in only one department.

The three finalists of the national contest will be ineligible for further participation at any level.

Local Contest

The American Legion National High School Oratorical Contest begins with contests at the post level.  For more information on participating, contact your local American Legion Post, email to programs@ialegion.org, or, call Department Headquarters at 800-365-8387.

Find a Post

Awards and Scholarships

Post, County, and District Levels:  Varies by location

Area Contest:

  1. $50 awarded by The American Legion of Iowa for expenses;
  2. $200 Scholarship awarded to each contestant who participates at the Area level but does not advance to Department-level competition.

Department (State) Contest:  Matching scholarships provided by The American Legion of Iowa and The American Legion of Iowa Foundation:

American Legion Foundation Total:
1st Place $1,000 $1,000 $2,000
2nd Place $750 $750 $1,500
3rd Place $500 $500 $1,000

National Finals

The 2019 National Finals are April 5-7 in Indianapolis, at the Wyndham Indianapolis West Hotel, 2544 Executive Drive, Indianapolis, Indiana 46241, (317) 248-2481. Quarterfinal and semifinal contests are scheduled for Saturday, April 6, with the finals scheduled for Sunday, April 7.

All contestants and chaperones will arrive on the Friday of the contest weekend. All contestants and chaperones will stay at the official contest hotel.

A mandatory pre-contest orientation session for all contestants will take place on the Friday evening of the contest weekend. A banquet honoring all contestants will be Sunday afternoon, following the national championship contest. All contestants and chaperones will depart for home later that afternoon.

Final Round of the National Contest:

1st Place: $18,000
2nd Place: $16,000
3rd Place: $14,000

Prepared Oration

The prepared oration must be on some aspect of the Constitution of the United States with emphasis on the duties and obligations of a citizen to our government. The same subject and oration will be used at all levels of the contest.

The prepared oration must be the original effort of each contestant and must not take up less than eight minutes or more than 10 minutes for delivery.

Contestants may have in their possession a copy of their prepared oration in the first holding room. The copy may be in electronic or paper form. They may consult the copy of their prepared oration until they exit the holding room in order to begin the contest, at which time the copy of the prepared oration will be surrendered to the contest official who is monitoring the first holding room.

Assigned Topics

The assigned topic discourse must not consume less than three (3) minutes or more than five (5) minutes for delivery. The purpose of the assigned topic discourse is to test the speaker’s knowledge of the subject, the extent of his or her research, and the ability to discuss the topic as related to the basic principles of government under the Constitution.

The assigned topic shall be drawn by the contest official in full view of the audience immediately before the last speaker begins delivery of his or her prepared oration and will be made known to the audience and each contestant approximately five (5) minutes prior to the time of delivery. The topic will be on some phase of the U.S. Constitution, selected from Articles and Sections as listed under assigned topics for the current year’s contest.

All contestants at each contest level are required to speak in the English language on the same assigned topic.

Assigned Topics for 2019 Oratorical Contest

Amendment 1

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment 4

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment 13

  1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
  2. Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment 21

  1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
  2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.
  3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

“Assigned Topics” – https://www.legion.org/oratorical/topics.

Oratorical Contest Rules and Regulations

Rules and regulations for the contest may be found in the following documents:

Oratorical Application (PDF)
Oratorical Rules Brochure (PDF)