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High schooler voices patriotism at American Legion contest

American Legion’s National High School Oratorical Contest, Area C competition Feb. 18, 2012, at the Prescott VA.  Judges, left to right are: Judith Riggenbach, Leo Zuercher, Chris Kuknyo, Tamara Kastanas, James Koster, Daniel Williamson and Jim Strande. Student contestants from left to right are: Ayla Bowman, Bradshaw Mountain High School – 3rd place; Jessica He, Cesar Chavez High School – 1st place; Nathan Kibler, Cesar Chavez –  5th; Eli Coakley, Tonopah  Valley High – 2nd; Hector Andrade, Tonopah Valley – 4th. He and Coakley advanced to statewide competition<br>
Courtesy Photo

American Legion’s National High School Oratorical Contest, Area C competition Feb. 18, 2012, at the Prescott VA.  Judges, left to right are: Judith Riggenbach, Leo Zuercher, Chris Kuknyo, Tamara Kastanas, James Koster, Daniel Williamson and Jim Strande. Student contestants from left to right are: Ayla Bowman, Bradshaw Mountain High School – 3rd place; Jessica He, Cesar Chavez High School – 1st place; Nathan Kibler, Cesar Chavez –  5th; Eli Coakley, Tonopah  Valley High – 2nd; Hector Andrade, Tonopah Valley – 4th. He and Coakley advanced to statewide competition<br> Courtesy Photo

National Honor Society member and Bradshaw Mountain High senior Ayla Bowman, 17, put her patriotism into practice by entering the American Legion's National High School Oratorical Contest.

American Legion Gary Streeter Post #108 and Auxiliary in Prescott Valley selected her to represent the post at the Area C competition after hearing her speech.

"I personally felt very much like a proud parent," said Post #108 Commander Bob Davis. "It is nice to know the world and its future are being placed in the hands of such educated students. Her 3-minute speech was short and to the point. Very informative."

For the Area C competition five students gave their speeches at the Prescott VA on Feb. 18. Bowman narrowly missed a chance to speak at the state contest when she placed third.

"Our 'Girl Stater' did a fantastic job at the Oratorical contest," Davis said. "Her 10-minute speech was entertaining, factual, covered all the bases. Those in attendance from our Post and Auxiliary were very proud of her."

First place went to Jessica He from Cesar Chavez High, while Eli Coakley from Tonopah Valley High was second. They advanced to state competition on March 3. (Results not available.) The state winner will represent the Department of Arizona at the national contest in Indianapolis, Ind., in April.

According to the American Legion web site, the oratorical contest teaches leadership, national law history, and ability to think and speak clearly, along with the duties, responsibilities, rights and privileges of American citizenship.

Bowman received $75 for her Area C achievement. At the national level, first place receives an $18,000 scholarship to attend any college or university in the United States. Second gets $16,000 and third takes $14,000. Each individual state winner certified into and participating in the first round of the national contest receives a $1,500 scholarship. Each first-round winner who advances but doesn't qualify for finals receives another $1,500 scholarship.

Local posts and districts award hundreds of smaller scholarships, as well, during early levels of competition.

For more information, visit www.legion.org.

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