Pinnacle senior finishes first at American Legion District Oratorical contest

Pinnacle’s Kylie Cochrane (bottom left) and Verrado’s Caleb Doerksen (bottom) arned first and second place awards, respectively, in the 2018 American Legion District 11 Oratorical contest. (Special to the Independent)

Pinnacle High school senior Kylie Cochrane and Verrado High School freshman Caleb Doerksen earned first and second place awards, respectively, in the 2018 American Legion District 11 Oratorical contest.

The American Legion Oratorical Contest in designed to develop deeper knowledge and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution among high school students as well as to teach them important public speaking skills, a press release states.

Entrants must speak about some aspect of the U.S. Constitution, with some emphasis on the duties and obligations of citizens to our government.

Ms. Cochrane is no stranger to the American Legion Family programs. This past summer, she attended the week long American Legion Auxiliary Girls State program which emphasizes the workings of Arizona government and responsible citizenship, according to a release.

In each ALA Girls State session, the nearly 300 attendees set up a government and elect governing officials. Ms. Cochrane campaigned for and was elected as Secretary of State in the 2017 program.

During her oratorical presentation, she reminded the audience that “100 percent of Americans utilize their right to free speech, 100 percent use their right to choose religion (or not), 100 percent use their right to assemble when and where they wish, yet only 56 percent of eligible voters actually voted in the last election”.

Calling upon her own experience as a millennial, she called for more civics training in schools. In her easy presentation style, she reminded the audience that participation in government can happen through voting or volunteering in the community.

When asked what she learned from the experience, she described developing discipline. She noted it takes focus and discipline to develop an idea, compose a “story” that is interesting and compelling, memorize and then perfect its presentation.

Ms. Cochrane plans to study broadcast journalism and political science in the fall. In addition to advancing to the next level, she was awarded $100 for this first level of accomplishment.

Ms. Cochrane and Mr. Doerksen will now proceed to the next competitive level which will include high school speakers from the Valley. The state level competition will be in Ahwatukee Saturday, March 3.

Winners from each level of Arizona competition will receive a cash award. Then, one Arizona contestant will proceed to the National competition in Indianapolis. The overall national contest winner will receive an $18,000 scholarship.

Second place takes home $16,000, and third will receive $14,000. Each state winner who is certified into and participates in the national contest’s first round receives a $1,500 scholarship.

Those who advance past the first round receive an additional $1,500 scholarship. The American Legion’s National Organization awards the scholarships, which can be used at any college or university in the United States.

The Arizona American Legion’s Oratorical Chairman is Roger Munchbach of Chandler. He has been involved with the program for over 20 years; the American Legion has sponsored that Oratorical competition for 81 years. He attests that it is an inspiration to work with these students as they become responsible adults.

The public can attend the Arizona State American Legion Oratorical competition Saturday, March 3 at 10 am. The event will be at the Ahwatukee Recreation Center, 5001 E. Cheyenne Drive.

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