This is the 70th year for the American Legion Oratorical Contest. The purpose of the contest is to develop a deeper knowledge and appreciation of the Constitution of the United States on the part of high school students. The contest begins with local contests with winners progressing on to district contests, then to area contests and finally to the South Dakota state contest to be held in Huron Feb. 25. The winner of the state contest will attend the National Finals Contest April 14 and 15 at the Indiana University-Purdue University at the Indianapolis Conference Center and Hotel, Indianapolis, IN.
The participants prepare an oration lasting no less than eight minutes and no more than 10 minutes on some phase of the Constitution of the United States, which will give emphasis to the attendant duties and obligations of a citizen to our government. In addition to the prepared oration, the participant must be prepared to speak extemporaneously for three to five minutes on any of the articles or amendments of the Constitution.
The District 7 contest (Charles Mix, Douglas, Hutchinson, Bon Homme, Yankton and Clay County winners) had four participants.
Meg Henrickson of Yankton, was sponsored by the Yankton Legion Post. Her prepared oratory was "We Are What They Are Fighting For." Meg is sophomore in high school and this was her second year competing in the contest.
Brittany Holzvawer of Wagner, was sponsored by the Pickstown Legion Post. Her prepared oratory was "A Citizen's Duty." Brittany is a senior in high school and has competed for three years in this competition.
Amanda Zalad, a high school senior from Vermillion, was sponsored by the Vermillion Legion Post. This was her first year participating in the contest. When asked why she chose to participate, she responded that this was something new and challenging to try. Her prepared oratory was "Our First Freedom."
Nakita Podhradsky has participated in the contest for four years. She is a senior from Wagner and was sponsored by the Wagner Legion Post. "The First Amendment" was her prepared oratory.
The chosen extemporary topic was the eighth Amendment, which states that excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
All four young women presented their oratories in fine fashion, making the decision of the judges a difficult one.
Meg Henrickson was chosen as the District 7 winner. She will go on to the area contest (South Dakota American Legion Districts 1 and 7) Feb. 11, which will be held in Irene.