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Department of Mississippi

Oratorical Committee

Pictured (L. to R.)

2020 MS State Finalists:  Jonathan Baker of Perkinston, Sophie Stewart of Laurel, Evan Morrisey of Jackson, Daniel Laudadio of Walnut, Amber Cook of Richland, and Kayla Brown of Greenwood.

* * * P R E S S   R E L E A S E * * *

March 7, 2020



            For the third year, Daniel Laudadio of Walnut has won the gold medal and title of Champion in the Mississippi State Final Competition of The American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Program – “A Constitutional Speech Contest” – held March 7 at the Eagle Ridge Conference Center at Hinds Community College in Raymond, Miss.  Daniel, a junior at Laud A Dio Academy, will return to compete in the National Finals at Indianapolis, Indiana, April 17-19, 2020 representing Mississippi again with his original, award-winning speech entitled “The Constitution:  Touching Our Daily Lives.”  Sponsored by Lee County Post 49 of Tupelo, Daniel won The Past National Commander James P. Dean Oratorical Champion scholarship award of $3000, 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.

            The 1st Runner-Up, winning the silver medal and $2500 scholarship award, was Kayla Brown of Greenwood, a sophomore at Pillow Academy sponsored by Thompson-Clemons Post 200, with her speech entitled “Choosing Liberty.”  Amber Cook of Richland, a senior at Richland High School sponsored by Brandon Post 68, won the bronze medal and $2000 scholarship award  as 2nd Runner-Up with her speech entitled “Igniting a Flame for Our Constitution.”

            Honorable Mention scholarship awards of $1000 each were awarded to:  Jonathan Baker of Perkinston, a freshman at Stone High School sponsored by Joe Graham Post 119 of Gulfport, with his speech “To Defend the Constitution;” Sophie Stewart of Laurel, a sophomore at Stewart Home School sponsored by Jake W. Lindsey Post 70 of Waynesboro, with her speech “Proven Truths of the Constitution:  Withstanding the Tests of Time;” and Evan Morrisey of Jackson, a senior at William B. Murrah High School sponsored by Madison-Ridgeland-Gluckstadt Post 153, with his speech “Tax Nation.”   All finalists received Certificates of Distinction and all will receive engraved plaques commemorating their outstanding achievements.

            Now in its 83rd 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.  This is the toughest speech contest in the nation for high school students, who must speak without notes, lectern, props, or sound system on some aspect of the U.S. Constitution, with emphasis on the duties, obligations, rights, and privileges of American citizenship.  Each year 54 Champions from the nation and around the world compete in the National Finals for scholarships worth thousands of dollars.  More resources are available at, and interested students in grades 9-12 in Mississippi may inquire and register online at

            Serving as judges for this year's State Final were:  Ms. Jerry Agent of Raymond, retired speech teacher, Hinds Community College; Ms. Susan K. Davidson of Purvis, M.S. - Marriage and Family Therapy, licensed marriage and family therapist, and diplomate of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy; Ms. Judy Lacy of Raymond, retired Court Administrator, Mississippi Court of Appeals; Ms. Rebecca L. Maurer of Columbus, M.B.A. - Purdue University, former judge, National High School Oratorical Quarter-Finals, Indianapolis, Indiana; and Ms. Jerrica Stimage of Utica, Academic Coach, Hinds Community College, Utica Campus, motivational speaker and mentor.

            The contest was moderated by Department Oratorical Chairman Joseph D. Kersh of Hattiesburg and conducted with the help of a dedicated contest staff of American Legion and Auxiliary members.  The grand event was concluded with a Recognition and Awards Banquet on site hosted by Department Sergeant-at-Arms Terence M. Polk of Hattiesburg, District 3 Executive Committeeman, and Commander of Mississippi Delta Post 1776.

Joseph D. Kersh, Oratorical Chairman


Department of Mississippi


403 South 19th Avenue

Hattiesburg, MS  39401-7449

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