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Mamus Ogolor from Staley High School and Eli Bartz from Oak Park competed in the American Legion’s County Level High School Oratorical Contest on Dec. 14. Clay County high schools were invited to compete.

The American Legion Oratorical Contest exists to develop deeper knowledge and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution among high school students. Since 1938, the program has presented participants with an academic speaking challenge that teaches important leadership qualities, the history of the nation’s laws, the ability to think and speak clearly and an understanding of the duties, responsibilities, rights, and privileges of American citizenship.

Ogolor placed first in the county level competition, receiving the Silver Oratorical Award Program Medal. Because Clay County is the only participant out of eight counties in the Third District of the American Legion’s Department of Missouri this year, Ogolor automatically advances to the Zone Contest, which will have four competitors from the northwest region of Missouri.

“The Bennett and Dennis Herrick Memorial American Legion Post 626 of Gladstone congratulates Mr. Ogolor on his accomplishments,” said Douglas Millison, commander of Post 626.

Post 626 sponsored both students who come from area schools.

“What these students do is quite remarkable, and earns our deepest respect. They prepare an oratory that must be not less than 5 minutes long and not more than 6, speaking on their viewpoint of Articles of the Constitution. All the while, they are being judged on everything from originality and comprehensiveness to voice and style. And when you hear the students speak with such knowledge of, and appreciation for the topic, it’s something else,” he said.

Members of Post 95 in Liberty as well as Post 626 members assisted the District Oratorical Chair in conducting the contest. To ensure fairness, judges were recruited from the community including Kellie Houx from the Gladstone Dispatch and Jennifer Speigel and Lori House from Antioch Middle School, where the competition was held.

The next contest will be for Zone II, consisting of four American Legion districts in the northwest corner of Missouri. It will be held at 1:30 p.m., Jan. 26, at Antioch Bible Baptist Church in Gladstone.

Contestants are competing for scholarships up to $2,000 at the state level, and up to $18,000 at the national level.

“We are looking forward to seeing Mr. Ogolor and Mr. Bartz again,” said Millison. “Both being juniors in their school, they will still be eligible to compete again next year if their schools advance them again. But hopefully, Mr. Ogolor will win this year and not need to return. We wish him the best going forward.”