SHS Senior takes second in State Oratorical Contest for American Legion

Senior Josh Werner is first student in years to compete for scholarship

Pictured: Werner took first place at Regionals. Source: Sally Quarles

SHS Senior Josh Werner earned second place in The American Legion, Department of Maine High School Oratorical Scholarship Program – a public speaking contest – today at Thomas College in Waterville, Maine.

According to the American Legion, Department of Maine website, the main purpose of the program is for high school students to “develop a deeper knowledge and appreciation of the Constitution of the United States.”

Werner is the first Spartan in many years to compete at the state level for SHS, with his second-place finish awarding him $500. His earnings across the competition total $2,000 in scholarships.

The 2022 National Finals takes place April 22-24 in Indianapolis. Werner will serve as Maine runner-up, meaning if the first-place winner does not attend, Werner will represent Maine. The winner of the national competition will earn a $25,000 scholarship.

The subject for the contest was required “to be on some aspect of the Constitution of the United States with emphasis to the attendant duties and obligations of a citizen to our government,” according to the Legion site. The speech must not take up less than eight minutes or more than 10 minutes for delivery.

According to Sally Quarles, Werner’s AP Seminar teacher, Werner took a unique angle with his speech by deciding to remain completely neutral, not mentioning any bias or reflecting any stances on beliefs about how the amendments have been utilized. Instead, Werner intends to “unite people under our awesome governmental compositive, not divide [his audience].”

Werner was accompanied to the event by his AP Government teacher, Michael Kane, who has coached Werner and helped prepare him for the contest. This week, Kane invited other Block 4 classes to Sanford’s Performing Arts Center to simulate the large audience expected at today’s event.

The national contest has occurred across the country since 1938. The contest also focuses on developing students’ 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.

Werner has been working closely with Kane with additional support from Quarles and fellow English teachers Elizabeth White and Kelly Tibbetts on his speech since the announcement of the competition this year. Werner also worked to launch a school debate club for SHS, which Quarles and Tibbetts agreed to sponsor. The club was approved but delayed due to the pandemic.

Congratulations, Josh!

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