Owen Falco Wins American Legion District Oratorical Contest
Owen Falco won the American Legion Southern Maryland District Oratorical Contest, Saturday, February 16, 2019, at the American Legion Post 259, Clinton, Maryland. He is the son of Beth and Robert Falco of Lusby, Maryland. The Southern Maryland District includes Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Prince Georges, Montgomery and St. Mary’s counties.
A junior at Patuxent High School, Lusby, Maryland, Falco first competed in the local competition held by the Calvert County Council of American Legions at the American Legion Arick L. Lore Post 274 on Saturday, February 26. He won first place with a speech titled “The Value of the Constitution.” Placing second at the county level was Joseph Oster, a sophomore at Patuxent High School.
Falco said he likes public speaking. He became a history buff because of his grandfather, who was a member of the American Legion and instilled the love of history in him. Falco also said that he could not have done this without the support of his parents, especially his mother who “spent a lot of late nights helping to time and memorize his speech.”
Falco won a $300 award at the district level and will now compete at the state level against winners of contests in other districts. Catherine Zellers, representing Montgomery County, placed second. A sophomore at Our Lady of Good Counsel, she is the daughter of Toby and Barbara Zellers. There are seven districts in the State of Maryland representing all twenty-three counties and Baltimore City.
At each level of the competition, participants deliver a prepared oration of eight-to-ten minutes on the American Constitution. The prepared oration is followed by a three-to-five-minute oration on a randomly assigned constitutional topic. The assigned topic is drawn by the contest official in full view of the audience during the competition from four topics chosen by the national organization of the American Legion. The purpose is the assigned topic is to test the speaker’s knowledge of the subject, the extent of research done by the student, and the ability to discuss topics related to the basic principles of the government under the Constitution.
At the local level the assigned topic was on the 13th Amendment, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” At the district level, the topic was Amendment 21, “The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.” The 18th Amendment was the prohibition of transportation, importation, possession or use of intoxicating liquors.
Falco will represent the Southern Maryland District of American Legions at the state competition on Sunday, March 3, 2019. The contest will be held at Stevenson University’s Owings Mills Campus. The winner of this competition will represent Maryland at the National Finals in Indianapolis, April 5-7, 2019, where fifty-three candidates will participate in nine quarter final rounds, with nine winners advancing to three semifinal rounds. The three semifinal winners will compete for scholarship awards.
Since 1938, the American Legion has held a High School Oratorical Scholarship Program. The program encourages high school students to study the United States Constitution and hone their public speaking skills. For more information on this and other programs sponsored by the American Legion visit www.legion.org.
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Joyce Stinnett Baki / Calvert Beacon Reporter