WATERVILLE — The Maine State Oratorical Contest, held recently at Thomas College, presented participants with an academic speaking challenge that teaches leadership qualities, the history of the nation’s laws, the ability to think and speak clearly and an understanding of the duties, responsibilities, rights and privileges of American citizenship.

Last year Victoria Schalk, home-schooled high school senior from Sabattus, took first place. She was sponsored by Sabattus American Legion Post 135.

This year it is her sister, Emma Schalk, sponsored by the same American Legion post and also home-schooled, who took the first place in the state, winning a prize of $1,000 and a trip to Indianapolis to compete April 4-6 for the national championship.

The overall national contest winner receives an $18,000 scholarship. Each state winner who participates in the national contest first round receives a $1,500 scholarship. Those who advance receive an additional $1,500 scholarship.

Coming in second at the Thomas College event was Rebecca Richards,  also home-schooled and a senior from East Winthrop, sponsored by Post 40, Winthrop. Third was won by Amanda Komulainen from South Paris a junior at Oxford Christian Academy hosted by Post 32.

The contest is one of several annual scholarship opportunities offered by the Department of Maine American Legion.

It is open to all Maine high school and home-schooled students. Each student must present an 8 to 10 minute prepared speech followed by a 3 to 5 minute assigned presentation on some aspect of the U.S. Constitution.

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