Winners of this year’s American Legion State Oratorical Contest are, from left, champion Joshua Smally of Horn Lake, first runner-up Mitchell Palmertree of Winona, and second runner-up Luke Vickers of Hernando.

Courtesy photo

Joshua A. Smally of Horn Lake won the gold medal and title of champion in the Mississippi State American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Program, “A Constitutional Speech Contest,” held March 11 at Millsaps College in Jackson. 

Smally, a sophomore at Lighthouse Christian Academy in Millington, Tenn., will now compete in the National Finals at Indianapolis, Ind., on April 21-23 and represent Mississippi with his original, award-winning speech entitled, “One Young Man.”

Smally is also now nominated for The Shelby F. Thames American Legion Mississippi Oratorical Champion Scholarship to The University of Southern Mississippi.

Sponsored by the Hugh Dancy American Legion Post 134 of Horn Lake, Joshua won The Past National Commander James P. Dean Oratorical Champion Scholarship Award of $3,000, awarded by Mississippi Delta Post 1776 of Cleveland, Miss., a committed supporter of the Oratorical Program, donating thousands of dollars in Scholarship Awards earned by all contestants at all contest levels statewide.

Winning the silver medal as first runner-up was Mitchell Palmertree of Winona, a senior at Winona High School.

Joshua Luke Vickers of Hernando, a freshman at Vickers Home Academy and sponsored by Nesbit Legion Post 1990, won the bronze medal as second runner-up with his speech, “We the People.” The runners-up also receive PNC James P. Dean Oratorical Scholarship Awards of $2500 and $2000 respectively.

Now in its 80th year, the American Legion National High School Oratorical Contest was begun to develop a deeper knowledge and appreciation of the United States Constitution on the part of high school students. Other objectives include the development of leadership qualities and abilities to think and speak clearly and intelligently.

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