GFHS junior Tess Harrington recently took 4th place overall in the district-level competition of this year’s American Legion Oratorical Contest for writing and delivering an original speech on “The Necessity of the Freedom of Speech.”
“Since 1938, the program has presented participants with an academic speaking challenge that teaches important leadership qualities, the history of our nation’s laws, the ability to think and speak clearly, and an understanding of the duties, responsibilities, rights, and privileges of American citizenship,” said teacher Donna Bates.
Students must prepare an 8-10 minute memorized speech on some aspect of the Constitution, with emphasis on a citizen’s duties and obligations to our government. Students must also speak for 3-5 minutes on an assigned topic to test their knowledge of the subject, the extent of their research, and their ability to discuss the topic as related to the basic principles of the government under the Constitution. The assigned topics for 2019 were Amendments 1 (Rights to Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly, Petition), 4 (Search and Seizure), 13 (Abolition of Slavery and Involuntary Servitude), and 21 (Repeal of 18th Amendment (Prohibition)).
Tess won the school competition, the Warren County competition, and traveled to the District competition in Chazy, NY. There, she made the finals and came in 4th overall. Her speech highlighted young Americans working to create social and societal change, while encouraging others “to be like the young people who have exercised their freedom of speech and have made a difference in our country.”
“The more that we know about the constitution, the more we are able to protect our rights, while making the country go forward in a direction that allows us to progress,” Tess wrote. “Even though we are too young to vote, even though we might be too young to volunteer, we can still be citizens and help to support and improve our country.
“Today we have a changing outlook in our country. Now is the time when both young and old, even those who have never been politically connected, to step up for what we believe in. … More and more people are paying attention and planning action. Everyone can do their parts to help this country and to be good citizens.”