Manchester resident Mandy Kent will represent Carroll County tomorrow night in the district level of the American Legion's 56th annual National High School Oratorical Contest.
Mandy, who is a junior at North Carroll High School, will be one of three contestants from Western Maryland vying for prize money and the opportunity to compete at the state-level contest in Annapolis on March 7.
The district contest, which also features winners from Frederick and Washington counties, will take place at 8 p.m. tomorrow at Francis Scott Key American Legion Post 11 in Frederick. The contest, which has a snow date of Feb. 25, is free and open to the public, said contest chairman Arthur Brett.
"Parents are encouraged to bring their middle school and high school students to the contest to encourage participation in future years," he said.
"Our Constitution -- A Gift," was the title of Mandy's nearly nine-minute oration, which was given as part of the Carroll County Contest at American Legion Post 31 in Westminster. Mandy, who represented Hampstead American Legion Post 200, received $100 as winner of the county contest. She is the daughter of Richard and Donna Kent.
This was the first year that Mandy participated in the oratorical contest.
"I just heard about it in school and decided to give it a try," she said, noting she did a lot of research and learned "so much" about the Constitution.
"It was a lot of preparation."
Sarah Azizi, a junior at Westminster High School, won second place in the county contest and received a $50 prize. Heather Young, a junior at South Carroll High School who placed third, and Jonathan Hjembo, a senior at Francis Scott Key High School who placed fourth, each received $25 prizes.
Judges at the Carroll County contest included Perry L. Jones, mayor of Union Bridge; W. Benjamin Brown, mayor of Westminster; Henry Reindollar Jr., mayor of Taneytown; June Hess, an employee of the Taneytown Post Office; and Dorothy Rue, a Random House employee.
The annual American Legion High School Oratorical Contest begins with post-level competitions nationwide, with winners progressing through county, district, state, regional and sectional contests.
At each competition, contestants are required to present an eight- to 10-minute oration on some aspect of the Constitution that stresses citizen responsibilities. Participants must also give a three- to five-minute extemporaneous discourse on a subject drawn from selected constitutional topics.
The contests culminate at a national event where winners receive scholarship awards ranging from $12,000 for the fourth-place winner to $18,000 for the first-place winner.
Maryland contestants have won three national competitions and a third-place prize in the past five years.