High School Oratorical Scholarship Program


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 on the part of 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, the rights and privileges of American citizenship.

2018-2019 Oratorical Winners pictured (l-r): Department Commnder Lyle Bartels, Audrey Worthing (1st place; Elm Creek); MicKael Halverstadt (2nd place; Thayer);
Colin Thieszen (3rd place; Aurora); Simon Podliska (4th place; Omaha), Oratorical Chairman Michael Hatfield


Young orators earn some of the most generous college scholarships available to high school students. Over $138,000 in scholarships can be awarded each year. The overall national contest winner gets an $18,000 scholarship. Second place takes home $16,000, and third gets $14,000. Each department (state) winner who is certified into and participates in the national contest’s first round receives a $1,500 scholarship. Those who advance past the first round receive an additional $1,500 scholarship. The American Legion’s National Organization awards the scholarships, which can be used at any college or university in the United States.


Eligible participants in The American Legion National High School Oratorical Contest shall be citizens of or lawful permanent residents of the United States. All contestants must be bona fide students under the age of twenty (20) years on the date of the National Contest who are presently enrolled in a high school or junior high school (public, parochial, military, private or state accredited home school) in which the curriculum of said high school is considered to be of high school level, commencing with grade nine (9) and terminating with grade twelve (12). Students must be enrolled in high school or junior high school during the time of participation at any level of The American Legion National High School Oratorical Contest. Contestants must either be legally domiciled within or attend an educational institution within the Department (State) that they enter competition. Contestants can enter competition through only one Department. The three finalists of the National Contest will be ineligible for further participation at any level.

The Contest

The contest will consist of two parts:

(A) An 8 – 10 minute, memorized oration will be given on some phase of the United States Constitution.

(B) A 3 – 5 minute oration on one of the four “assigned topics” assigned by National Headquarters.

The contestant may not use any notes or prompts when giving their oration. A minimum of five (5) judges will judge all contests, grading independently. Local and county contest can be judged by a minimum of three (3) judges. The tabulators will tabulate all scores of the judges and apply any penalties as directed by the Chairman of the contest. The Chairman will verify the result and announce the winners.

For Additional Information:

- Download the Oratorical Contest Brochure.

- Download the 2018-2019 Oratorical Contest Student Entry Form.

- Download the 2018-2019 Oratorical Contest Schedule (updated October 9, 2018).

- Visit The American Legion Assigned Topics web page for information on the assigned topics.

- Visit The American Legion Oratorical Contest web page for information about the program.

- How to Prepare for The American Legion Oratorical Contest provides contestants with a comprehensive look at the Oratorical Contest, information on how to research, write and present award-winning speeches, as well as practice assignments that will make the contestant feel more prepared and confident for the competition. This guide can be purchased for $19.99.

- Download a list of the Department of Nebraska's past Oratorical State Champions (Updated April 2018).

- Contact American Legion Department of Nebraska Assistant Adjutant Brent Hagel-Pitt at 402-464-6338.