Rylie Ploeger took first place at the state finals of the Constitutional Speech Contest held on February 2 at the Mid-Winter Conference of The American Legion.
She qualified for the finals by finishing in the top four finishers two weeks ago at Moses Lake, where she was one of 17 students who were certified and invited to attend the preliminaries. For her first-place win she earned a $2,000 scholarship and was invited to participate at the national level.
Ploeger and a chaperone will have expenses paid to Indianapolis on April 19 -21 where she will present her 8-10 minute speech on the U.S. Constitution.
The American Legion Constitutional Speech Contest, or Oratorical Contest, was originated by The American Legion in 1938 to provide high-school students with an academic speaking challenge that teaches important leadership qualities, the history of our nation’s laws, the ability to think and speak clearly, and an understanding of the duties, responsibilities, rights and privileges of American citizenship.
Ploeger, as did all contestants, worked long and hard to develop and perfect their speech. In all, about 200 people filled the conference room at the SeaTac Marriott to hear the four finalists.
The audience on Saturday had Legionnaires and Auxiliary members at the local, state, and national level as well as family, friends, and the distinguished volunteer judges.
Ploeger’s speech was titled “American Impartiality.” She also spoke for four minutes on the 24th Amendment, which prohibits “poll tax” or other restrictions for voting. She only had five minutes to prepare for this part of the competition.
She and her family were guests of The American Legion family at the “Youth Champions Banquet” held Saturday evening at the SeaTac Marriott. Ploeger spoke to the crowd about her experiences preparing for the contest.
Ploeger is a senior at Lake Stevens High School and is the daughter of Ken and Reshal Ploeger of Lake Stevens. She was sponsored by Lake Stevens American Legion Auxiliary Unit 181.