All contestants shall be citizens or lawful permanent residents of the United States, bona fide students under age 20, and presently enrolled in grades 9 through 12, in a high school or junior high school (public, parochial, military, home or private). Contestants must either live in Maryland or go to school in Maryland and may enter the contest in only one location. The three finalists in the National Finals cannot compete again at any level.
Contests are open to the public, with no admission charge. Schools and the public, generally, are invited to cooperate with the Legion in promoting this patriotic enterprise.
Contests are sponsored and financed by The American Legion Department of Maryland, Inc., and the Legion Posts throughout the State. Posts sponsor and assist the contestants from their local high schools. If no Post is near a high school, or if a contestant is not sponsored by a Post, then the Department, upon request, will assist the contestant in finding a county or district sponsor. Posts of each county unite to sponsor the county champion at the district contest. Posts in each district sponsor the district winner at the State Finals.
METHODS OF JUDGING
State contests have five judges. Lower contests may have three or five judges. Judges should be trained or experienced in public speaking, and (preferably) previously judged speech contests. Judges should not have judged a prior contest including the contestant, or be employed by a school represented by a contestant. Arrangements for judges are made by the Chair of each contest, who should brief the judges before the contest. A judge should not discuss anything about the contest with a contestant before the contest. During the contest, judges are seated in different locations. Each judge individually ranks the contestants without consulting anyone else.
Judges must use and follow the scorecard in the section "Criteria for Speeches." If the prepared oration or assigned topic ignores the attendant duties and obligations of a citizen, the contestant may be penalized up to 10 points.
Each contestant will prepare and deliver two speeches. At the state and national level the contestant must hand over a copy of the Prepared Oration speech. Plagiarism may cause disqualification. A student shall use the same subject for the oration throughout all contests.
The oration in all contests must last between eight and ten minutes. The same oration must be used by the state winner in the national contest. The title of the oration is announced by the contest Chair before each oration.
Quotations must be clearly indicated. If quotations exceed ten words, the author’s name shall be given both orally and in the manuscript. All speeches are delivered in English (except for short phrases from other languages). Singing is not permitted (although songs may be quoted).
This discourse lasts between three and five minutes. The oration quotation rule must be observed. The discourse tests the speaker’s knowledge of the subject, the extent of research, and the ability to relate the topic to the basic principles of the Constitution. All contestants speak on the same topic, drawn during the contest from the four listed in the section "Assigned Topics" for the year.
In either case, a contestant uses less than the minimum or more than the maximum time, a penalty of one point for each minute (or fraction thereof) is deducted from the contestant’s total score.
OTHER CONTEST RULES