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HHS student advances in contest

Jan. 12, 2013 @ 11:42 PM

HUNTINGTON — Madison Hall, a senior at Huntington High School, will represent the 5th District of West Virginia next month after winning the American Legion oratorical contest Saturday.

Hall and Dakota Bowman, a senior from St. Joseph Central Catholic High School, were the only two from the 5th District to participate in the 76th annual high school program. But their speeches made up for the small field.

“It’s nice to know they are coming for this and talking about the Constitution,” said Stacy Werhle, a member of American Legion Post 16 in Huntington and oratorical chairman for the state. “They do a great job.”

Each speaker prepares an eight- to 10-minute memorized speech on any aspect of the Constitution and duties as citizens. They also have to study four pre-determined articles or amendments from the Bill of Rights — one of which is picked during the competition for them to speak on.

Hall’s main speech was called “America is Your Home” and started with her memory of being in her first-grade class when 9/11 took place. She recalled that her teacher turned on the television in the room at the moment when the second plane hit the World Trade Center. That teacher then told students they were safe because the United States was their home.
Hall went on to talk about how the Constitution created a democracy which may have suffered an attack but was not in danger of a full-scale invasion.

“I learned to appreciate the Constitution and everything it upholds,” Hall said after her speech. “I’ve always had extreme patriotism inside me. I thought this was a place I could express that patriotism.”

Hall received a $200 check and a trophy. She will compete on Sunday, Feb. 10, at American Legion Post 177 in Barboursville. The winner there will move on to the state competition. The national winner will receive $18,000 toward college.

Bowman wasn’t disappointed to finish second. He said he really only received details about the contest on Friday and spent the day and evening preparing his speech on the preamble of the Constitution. He talked about the importance of the words “we the people,” saying it is the only part of the Constitution that can’t be amended and represents a contract between the government and citizens.

He said the experience was good and may serve him well as he plans to pursue degrees in economics and political science at the University of Chicago. He also hopes to attend law school.

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