The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

February 14, 2014

Athens student wins American Legion Post 49 Countywide Oratorical Contest

By Lora Scripps

— Emily Leopard, an Athens High School student, recently used her talent for the spoken word to win the American Legion’s Countywide Oratorical Contest.

Through the contest, sponsored by Athens Post 49, Leopard was awarded a $300 scholarship check and the opportunity to represent Limestone County at 12th District competition Saturday in Decatur.

Oratorical Contest Committee Chairman Robert Barry Hooie, a post commander of Post 49, believes the art of oratory is one that needs to be preserved in our society.

“Being able to speak logically and clearly before an audience on important topics is crucial to our democracy,” he said. 

Leopard, the daughter of Larry and Shane Leopard, attended the American Legion Auxiliary’s Girls State in Tuscaloosa last year.

“Attending Girls State was a really awesome experience and it caused me to become interested in the Oratorical Contest,” Leopard said.

Post 49 Public Relations Officer Rod Huffman said her eight-minute prepared topic —without the use of notes — contrasted the obligations of citizenship under the constitution with seeming apathy among many citizens and how that can be transformed.

Her three-minute impromptu topic was on the history of the 21st amendment to the U.S. Constitution, according to Huffman.

The winner of the 12th District Competition will advance to the 1st Division competition, and could advance to the state competition in Montgomery.

Hooie said scholarship monies are awarded at all levels of the competition and some Alabama universities and colleges also offer scholarships to the winning candidate at state level.

The state winner also receives a $3,000 scholarship from the American Legion Department of Alabama and will advance to the national competition where the first prize is $18,000. The second- and third-place winners receive $2,000 and $1,000 at the state and $16,000 and $14,000, respectively, at the national competition.