East County youth wins statewide patriotic oratorical competition

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Does East County possess some special magic that fosters eloquence in patriotic speech?

If so, that could explain why for the fourth year in a row, high school youths sponsored by El Cajon American Legion Post 303 won the Legion-conducted High School Oratorical Contest at the District 22 level covering San Diego County, to advance to the next competitive level of Southern California’s Area 5.

Does East County possess some special magic that fosters eloquence in patriotic speech?

If so, that could explain why for the fourth year in a row, high school youths sponsored by El Cajon American Legion Post 303 won the Legion-conducted High School Oratorical Contest at the District 22 level covering San Diego County, to advance to the next competitive level of Southern California’s Area 5.

This year’s Post 303-sponsored winning high school student from East County is Isaac Taylor, a freshman at Christian Heritage High School. On Feb. 16, young Taylor brought home the first-prize trophy from the Area 5 contest in Ontario at American Legion Post 112.

To add further accomplishment to his record, on Feb. 23, Taylor seized top place at the Oratorical Contest of the statewide Department of California level of competition, held at Jefferson Union High School in Daly City. He now advances to vie against other state winners in the nationwide contest, to be conducted in Indianapolis, on the weekend of April 4-6. 

Orators demonstrate their skills by delivering both a three-to-five minute speech on an assigned topic related to the United States Constitution and an eight-to-ten minute prepared oration on an aspect of the Constitution. This contest is intended to increase knowledge and appreciation of the nation’s founding document among high school students, as well as to enhance leadership skills and deepen understanding of the rights and duties of American citizenship. In the national competition, contestants must deliver the same speech as used in winning their statewide trophies.

The American Legion began this program in 1938. The Oratorical Contest fulfills dedication to two of the Legion’s Four Pillars of Service, for Americanism and for Children and Youth. Competitions from the local Post through the higher levels are open to any high school student to the age of twenty who is a U.S. citizen or legal resident. Members of a panel of judges assess the quality of contestant oratory and assign scores on that basis. The contest is among the most generous in awarding academic scholarships to winning competitors. 

Total prizes can top $138,000 each year, paid from the American Legion Life Insurance Fund, which money can be used at any college or university in the United States.

El Cajon Post 303 Commander Rob Tade expressed satisfaction and pride over attracting skilled youthful orators to the Post’s annual contest, calling Taylor an “outstanding speaker.” Isaac joins the consecutive line of past Post 303 winning sponsors Ian Davis from 2011 and his older sister, Audrea Taylor, who represented Post 303 through the patriotic speech contest levels in both 2012 and 2013.

Isaac Taylor was awarded academic scholarships of $400 from the local American Legion District, $800 from Area 5, and $1,200 from the Department of California. Upon being certified for and participating in the first quarterfinals round of national competition in Indianapolis on April 5, he will earn another $1,500. He is slated to compete against winners from Colorado, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Virginia. 

Advancing to the semifinals later that day will garner another $1,500. For the finals on April 6, first place orator will receive $18,000, with second finisher taking home $16,000, and third-place speaker getting $14,000. This year’s list of possible assigned topics for short discourse, any one of which might be drawn, covers the Constitution’s 1st, 4th, 13th and 21st Amendments, on such wide-ranging matters as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, religious liberty, unreasonable search and seizure, slavery, and repeal of prohibition on alcohol. 

No matter the outcome, Isaac Taylor is already a winner. He can be heard delivering speeches locally when he participates in other area debate and oratory contests.

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