About the Oratorical Contest

The American Legion Oratorical Contest exists to develop deeper knowledge and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution among high school students. 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. The program has featured numerous politicians and prominent contestants over the years, including former president candidate Alan Keyes and CNN anchor Lou Dobbs.
Young orators earn some of the most generous college scholarships available to high school students. 
High school students under age 20 are eligible. Competition begins at the post level and advances to a state competition. Legion department representatives certify one winner per state to the national contest, where department winners compete against each other in two speaking rounds. The contest caps off with a final round that decides the three top finishers.
Speaking subjects must be on some aspect of the U.S. Constitution, with some emphasis on the duties and obligations of citizens to our government. Speeches are eight to 10 minutes long; three- to five-minute speeches on an assigned topic also are part of the contest.

2023-2024 Oratorical Schedule

Post: To finish no later than March 16, 2024

District: To finish no later than March 23, 2024

Department: March 30, 2024 in Helena, MT

National: May 17-19, 2024 in Hillsdale, Mich. at Hillsdale College

Oratorical Scholarship Awards

Post and District awards vary depending on the Post or District commitment to the program.

All contestants will receive $175.00 for competing in the Pool

Oratorical award amounts are based on the number of District Winners certified and received at Department by the published deadline.

If we have more than six 6 contestants:

We will host two pool contestants in the morning by dividing contestants, and then the department finals will be in the afternoon. Pool Awards for the two Pools are $285 for 1st Place and $175 for 2nd Place each. The other places will not receive any awards and will be dismissed.

If we have six 6 contestants or less:

We will skip the pool contests and hold the department finals in the morning. We will take the pool awards money and offer it as awards to all 6 places. Finals Awards will be divided based on placing as follows: 6th- $100; 5th- $125; 4th- $150; 3rd- $175; 2nd- $200; and 1st- $300.

Department Scholarship awards are $1,500 for 1st Place, $750 for 2nd Place, $450 for 3rd Place and $400 for 4th Place.

The Department winner competes at the National Contest in Indianapolis, IN. The awards at National include $2,000 for competing in the first round plus another $2,000 if you reach the second round. Pass the second round into the finals and you are competing for $25,000, $22,500 or $20,000 for placing 1st, 2nd or 3rd in the Nation.

Additional Information


How to Participate

Rules and information for participation


Assigned Topics

Review the assigned topics for upcoming oratorical contest.


Additional Resources

How to conduct a contest, rules, judges scorecard, brochures and more

Past Department of Montana Oratorical Champions

1941 Leo Graybill, Jr Great Falls

1942 Leo Graybill, Jr Great Falls

1943 Robert Ripley Kalispell

1944 Robert Ripley Kalispell 3rd National

1945 Frank S Gonzales Helena

1946 William Kotz Great Falls

1947 Allan Coleman Bozeman

1948 Elizabeth Booth Helena

1949 Claire Sorrells Billings

1950 Colleen Tierney Butte

1951 Gerald Rutan Great Falls

1952 John Dreibelbis Billings

1953 William Huber Lewistown

1954 James Huber Lewistown

1955 William Kearns Miles City

1956 Paul Ulrich Butte

1957 Maribeth Sullivan Butte

1958 John Prestbo Chinook

1959 John Prestbo Chinook

1960 Larry Fasbendery Great Falls

1961 John Ross Fromberg

1962 Pat Bailey Great Falls

1963 Walter Kirkpatrick Billings

1964 Donna Pentz Poplar

1965 Mike Anderson Bozeman

1966 Mike Mahglen Lewistown

1967 Rick Beck Deer Lodge

1968 John D Skate Twin Bridges

1969 John D Skate Twin Bridges

1970 Bill Salina Great Falls

1971 Chuck Volf Judith Gap

1972 Robert Lock Great Falls

1973 Colleen Gallogly Great Falls 3rd National

1974 Alan Muskett Missoula

1975 Alan Muskatt Missoula

1976 Gary Muskatt Missoula

1977 Gary Muskett Missoula

1978 Howard Stone Billings

1979 Isobel Endlichhofer Polson

1980 Jeff Shular Twin Bridges

1981 Ellen Jennings Great Falls

1982 Aaron D Barnhart Billings

1983 Aaron D Barnhart Billings

1984 Todd Sundsted Plentywood

1985 Daniel M Handcock Butte

1986 Frank Sennett Missoula

1987 Sarah Mae Mitchell Vaughn

1988 Andrea Friednauer Missoula

1989 Angela King Twin Bridges

1990 Allison Hughes Polson

1991 Jana Sundheim Froid

1992 Jason Korensky Butte

1993 John Lokey Missoula

1994 Jason Theilman Columbia Falls 4th National

1995 Stephanie Davis Livingston

1996 Jenny Guffin Missoula

1997 Nathan Trimpano Lewistown

1998 Elizabeth LaBonty Missoula

1999 Kevin Grove Moccasin

2000 Jeremy Hodges Whitefish

2001 Tyler Cegler Stevensville

2002 Robin Brown Whitefish

2003 Sara Crogan Belgrade

2004 Mary Milodragovich Butte

2005 Heidi Grove Moccasin

2006 Kayla Pierce Belgrade

2007 Kathleen Brown Belgrade

2008 Kaitlyn Lamb Whitefish

2009 Kristi Lee Forsyth

2010 Katherine Sizemore Gildford

2011 Josh McCaffrey Butte

2012 Mark Schmutzler Helena

2013 Shae Rowe Helena

2014 Jackson Smith Missoula

2015 Gavin Sison Butte

2016 Michael Fuller Helena

2017 Michael McKay Corvallis

2018 Norris Blossom Helena

2019 Sierra Dilworth Kalispell

2020 Scott O’Donnell Kalispell

2021 Emmy Martin Harlowton

2022 Ella Henslee Big Sky


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