Emma Kate Wrather knows her United States constitution and earned the winning spot in an American Legion oratorical competition at Covenant Academy.
“I was excited to win and a little bit surprised, to be honest,” said Wrather, a 14-year-old freshman. “It took me about a month to get my big speech done.”
The oratorical contest exists to develop deeper knowledge and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution among high school students.
Wrather said she must have read through the document 20 times in order to understand it in an effort to write her speech. In the end, she decided to relay it through the eyes of a teen who is governed by parents.
“So what exactly makes the U.S. Constitution such a wonderful document? I mean it was written way back in 1787 by a bunch of old guys who thought they could decide how our lives were going to be run 230 years later. They didn’t even have iPhones back then.”
She goes on to admit her opening statement was her actual first thought on the Constitution, a document considered a product of compromise that has stood the test of time.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t admit this was exactly my first thought when I began pondering on this topic. I had absolutely no clue how I could possibly relate to this document on a more personal level, until one night, after reading though the Constitution for the 100th time, something finally clicked. This is how I can relate to the Constitution. I am like America and my parents are just like the government.”
She thinks she rules but her parents are always around as a reminder they govern.
“Being a teenager, I like to believe that I rule my own little world and that it revolves around my pinky, but my parents never fail to remind me what to do, when to do it, and so on and so forth. This is much like America before the Constitution. We, as American citizens, can be very opinionated and strong-headed at times, but we must abide by the rules our federal government puts in place for us. There are plenty of rules and regulations set in place for our country, such as the Constitution.”
Taking second place at Covenant was Erica Clay, while third place went to Brandy Pennington.
Young orators can earn some of the most generous college scholarships available to high school students. The overall national contest winner gets an $18,000 scholarship. Second place takes home $16,000, and third gets $14,000. Each state winner who is certified into, and participates in, the national contest’s first round receives a $1,500 scholarship. Those who advance past the first round receive an additional $1,500 scholarship.
The American Legion’s National Organization awards the scholarships, which can be used at any college or university in the United States. Over $138,000 in scholarships can be awarded each year.
First-place winners in the post-level competitions advance to state competition in 2018.