I t was a hard decision for the judges, but when all was said and done at last Friday’s Washington County Oratorical Contest, Granville High School senior John Manchester emerged as the winner, advancing to the New York State Departmental Competition on Saturday, Jan. 14, at Plattsburgh High School.
Manchester placed first among six student orators from Washington County schools in the competition sponsored by the American Legion. Second place in the competition went to Granville’s Alicia Clark, while Whitehall senior Katie Paddock took third place.
All six competitors were given eight minutes to discuss facets of the U.S. Constitution. They recited their speeches from memory without notes or any additional aid.
Manchester’s winning speech focused on how the constitution guarantees freedom of the press. Touching on the issue from colonial times to the present, he noted the struggles of John Peter Zenger, the thoughts of Thomas Jefferson, and the current controversy surrounding documents made public by WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange.
Clark’s speech explored the topic of the constitution’s establishment of an independent judicial system in America, while Paddock discussed impact of the 26th Amendment, which gave 18-year-olds the right to vote.
As the competition continues in New York, one state winner will advance to the national competition in April in Indianapolis.
At the national level, students can earn scholarships of up to $18,000 with smaller scholarships available along the way.