Melissa Barnosky, first Albion student to win state oratorical title, competes in Indianapolis

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 April 2018 at 8:09 am

Senior from Kentucky wins national oratorical contest

Melissa Barnosky

ALBION – After winning the state title, Melissa Barnosky competed this weekend in the national American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Program – “A Constitutional Speech Contest.”

Barnosky, a senior at Albion, became the first Albion student to win the state title on March 3 in Albany. That earned her a trip to Indianapolis for the national competition.

She was one of 53 state or department champions at nationals in the 81st annual contest. On Saturday, she faced off in the quarterfinals with the champions from Maine, Maryland, Ohio, North Dakota and Louisiana. The Ohio representative advanced to the semifinals.

Barnosky won the school, county, district and zone competitions. She earned a $6,000 scholarship when she won the state competition. Last year she was third in the state.

The students all needed to give an 8-10 minute prepared speech on the U.S. Constitution and citizen duties and obligations to the government. If a contestant goes over or under the time frame, there are penalty points. Barnosky also had four prepared speeches that are 3 to 5 minutes long on other assigned topics.

“We are so proud of her,” said Sue Starkweather Miller, Community Schools director for Albion Central School. “What an accomplishment. She worked hard.”

Barnosky plans to attend The College at Brockport this fall to major in journalism and broadcasting. She said she enjoys public speaking, researching history and preparing her speeches.

“She is very, very poised,” Starkweather Miller said. “She has really delved into the information. She is very interested in the Constitution.”

The national competition was won by a senior from McCracken County High School in Paducah, Ky. Carlissa Frederich earned an $18,000 college scholarship and first place. She advanced to the championship through three rounds of intense competition. She was sponsored by American Legion Post 73 in Murray, Ky.

In her prepared oration, Frederich compared the Constitution to the powerful Grand Coulee Dam. “Much like the dam was built to create and harness power, our forefathers built the Constitution to create and harness power – to empower the government to act at a national level, but harness that power so it did not infringe upon individual liberty.”

“The founders believed our rights came from God to the people who could then loan a very limited amount of that power to the government through the Constitution,” she added. “The Constitution ensures rights. Exercising these limits government. Limited government maintains rights, completing the cycle and creating a type of ordered liberty.”

In each round of the weekend competition, orators delivered a rehearsed 8- to 10-minute address and a randomly assigned 3- to 5-minute oration on a constitutional topic, each without the benefit of notes and in front of a live audience, including the judges.

The 2-million member American Legion developed the contest to encourage young people to improve their communications skills and to study the U.S. Constitution. More than $3 million in scholarships have been awarded over the history of the contest.

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