Teens from area high schools recently vied for top honors at the American Legion District 3 High School Oratorical Contest held on Jan. 27, 2018, at Post 349 in Raceland. Each contestant delivered an 8-10 minute prepared speech on the Constitution and a second 3-5 minute speech on a constitutional topic that was assigned on site. First place went to Conner Hebert, a junior at Vandebilt Catholic High School. Second place went to John-Michael Shiner, a freshman at Erath High School. Third place went to Roni Petty, a junior also at Erath High School. Hebert won $175 from American Legion District 3. He also advances to the state contest in Natchitoches on March 4, 2018. A win at state will allow Conner to compete at nationals for some of the most generous college scholarships available to high school students. The national contest winner earns an $18,000 scholarship, while second place takes home $16,000 and third place gets $14,000.
Lee Shaffer, 3rd District Oratorical Chairman, was pleased to see the professionalism of each of the students. He related, “For high school students to get involved in a constitutional speech contest and spend so much time preparing for the event was inspiring to witness.” Legal professionals judged the contest and afterward mentored contestants to help them improve their presentation skills. One judge, Patricia Judice, commented, “This is a great contest. It promotes patriotism and helps teens understand their role in keeping democracy alive for generations to come. The confidence and public speaking skills contestants gain will benefit them throughout their lives. Congratulations to the contestants, their coaches and their families.”