Seventeen year-old Brooke Connor, a senior at Middlebury Union High School, won the Vermont American Legion Oratorical Contest held at the Vergennes American Legion Post 14 on March 6. She will represent the State of Vermont at the American Legion National High School Oratorical Contest in Indianapollis at Indiana University-Purdue University, April 9-11.
CONNOR impressed the judges with her prepared speech, "Putting Together the Constitutional Puzzle." For the randomly assigned constitutional topic, Brooke had to speak for 3-5 minutes on the Fifth Amendment. According to the teen's father, the accomplishment also won her a night off of milking chores. She lives on a farm with her parents Paul and Marian Connor in Bridport.
Brattleboro Union High School sophomore Aria Roach placed second representing district 5 with her speech, "A Search for Equalilty".
All the finalists received prize money. The contestants were required to speak on some aspect of the U.S. Constitiution with emphasis on the duties and obligations of a citizen to our government. Brooke Connor will present the same speech subject in the national contest.
Department Commander Royal Sheeley congratulated all the competitors for having reached the final level in the State Contest. In his remarks, Commander Sheeley reflected on the importance of the oratorical program in helping young people prepare for responsible citizenship. Oratorical Chairwoman Karlene DeVine reminded those in attendance that the speaking accomplishments of the contestants began when they were in junior high or earlier. Along the way they each sought challenges with more rigorous competition requirements resulting in this opportunity to garner scholarship assistance through The American Legion.
The first place winner in the national contest takes home $18,000 and the next two finishers receive $16,000 and $14,000, respectively. Each department (state) winner who participates in the first round of the national contest receives a $1,500 scholarship.
The High School Oratorical contest is one of several programs supported by The American Legion Department of Vermont to help young people get the higher education they need to participate in tomorrow's society.