HAMPSTEAD – The largest group of eighth graders at Hampstead Middle School to participate in the American Legion Oratorical Contest took part in the 2014 event Friday morning.
The subject for the student presentations was the Constitution and its amendments.
Mackenzie Finocchiaro, who spoke on the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery, was chosen as the winner, with Anna LoPresti, who spoke on the 4th Amendment that prohibits unreasonable search and seizure, as runner-up.
The two girls will go on to the District Competition at the Hampstead Middle School library on March 15 at 8:15 a.m. Each contestant will speak on assigned topics for three to five minutes in phase one, then speak between 2 to 3 minutes on one of three topics they will have prepared for.
The winners at Districts will move on to the State Competition at Saint Anselm College’s Institute of Politics.
Alternates for the District Competition from HMS are Thomas Meagher, who spoke on the 25th Amendment that defines the process of presidential succession, and Lauren Pardue, whose topic was the 2nd Amendment, the right to bear arms. Honorable Mention went to Bryan Heman, on the 22nd Amendment, limiting the presidential term to two years, and Robert Young whose topic was the 5th Amendment, eminent domain and due process.
The students research their topic both for its relevance at the time it was written and for today. Their speeches cannot contain personal opinions but should raise questions. Part of the exercise is to use voice and tone changes as well as gestures and movement to emphasize points.
Katie Wolf, HMS eighth grade teacher, is in charge of the in-school competition. Part of the eighth grade socials studies unit focuses on public speaking and civics. The competition enhances the students’ understanding about democracy in America and about the nation, Wolff said.
“Students have been working hard preparing their speeches for the last several weeks,” she said. ‘I’m very proud of the students’ accomplishments.”
Judges for the event were HMS teachers John Edmondson and Sue Handy, along with Principal Patti Grassbaugh and Ventures teacher Cheri Schmitt.
As a way of celebrating the oratorical competition and a late honoring of Chinese New Year, the leadership class students hosted a Chinese food buffet on Friday after the competition.