Rachel Menhart, a student from Grayslake North High School won first place in the 10th District American Legion competition on Saturday, January 11, 2014. Rachel was sponsored by Grayslake American Legion Post # 659. Eric Gier, from Wauconda Post #911 Sons of the American Legion, placed second.
"The contest has been held at Grayslake Central High School for the past 3 years. Grayslake is a central location for this county-wide competition, and Grayslake Central High School continues to be extremely generous with their facilities and support for the program," said Karen White, Post 659 Americanism Chairman. The Oratorical speeches were judged by a very distinguished group of individuals, who are gifted orators in their own professions. The judges of the 2014 contest included: Lake County Circuit Court Judge Luis Berrones, Lake County States Attorney Michael Nerheim, Assistant States Attorneys Jeff Paulitic, & Rod Drobinski, and former Wauconda Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Barbini.
The Oratorical Contest is a two-part speech event. The orators diligently prepare for the contest by studying all aspects of the Constitution. For the first part of the event, they give (without benefit of notes), an eight to ten-minute speech on any aspect of the U.S. Constitution, with emphasis on privileges & duties of a citizen. The second part of the contest consists of a 3-5 minute speech on one of four possible topics: the contestants don't know which topic will be assigned until 5 minutes before they must give their speeches.
The First Amendment was the topic selected on Saturday morning: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion; or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Rachel will compete with up to 29 other students at the Illinois Department American Legion Contest on March 1st in Peoria. Scholarship prizes totaling over $13,000 will be awarded. The State winner advances to the National competition in Indianapolis in April, where the prize money escalates to a total $128,000 among the 50 contestants. The final three winners will receive scholarships of $14,000, $16,000, and $18,000 respectively.