There is no stopping Andrew Kil ’23 as he heads to the American Legion High School Oratorical National Competition this April. Kil, who won the state-level competition earlier this month, will travel to Indianapolis in hopes of taking home the first-place scholarship prize of $25,000 and the national title.
The American Legion Oratorical Scholarship Program is a speech competition where students hone their writing and presentation skills through research of the United States Constitution, speaking on an area of the Constitution to compete for scholarship prizes. The competition has existed nationally since 1938, developing knowledge and appreciation of the U.S. Constitution among high school students.
Having quickly risen through the district, zone, and state competitions, Kil says discovering his talent for oratory was by chance. If not for his coach, Mr. Peter Shaheen, Kil would not be competing in oratorical competitions. Kil’s journey began his sophomore year when Shaheen substituted for Kil’s English class. The students were scheduled to present their reports, and Shaheen noticed right away Kil had a talent for public speaking.
“After my presentation that day, Mr. Shaheen told me about the American Legion Oratorical Scholarship Program and said that with practice, he thought I would have a great chance at winning,” said Kil.
To recite a speech perfectly entails plenty of practice, which Kil has committed to. For the last year, Kil and Shaheen have met on a bi-weekly (sometimes weekly) basis to draft, edit, recite, and practice a speech focused on the required topic of the U.S. Constitution. Kil has memorized 30 minutes of speech, which he will need in order to stand out among the 49 other student competitors. At the national competition, he will perform a 10-minute speech, after which judges will proceed to ask him one out of four oratory prompts, meaning he will have to be prepared for each.
“I was not an expert on the Constitution but had a great interest in the speaking prompts and learning more. With Mr. Shaheen’s guidance and the more we talked about the Constitution and the ideas of where the speech could go, I became more excited to compete,” Kil explained.
No matter what the outcome may be at nationals, Kil remains humble about his journey and credits his success to his coach’s guidance. “Without Mr. Shaheen I would have never made it to where I am today. This journey was really by happenstance. . . and it has been a fun and triumphant journey.”
Kil plans to continue to pursue oratorical competitions into his senior year with Coach Shaheen leading the way.
“Andrew is a brilliant young Shamrock,” said Shaheen. “Learning from him is one of those remarkable times as a teacher when you realize your student is destined for future greatness. Andrew will leave his mark on this world in the tradition of all the great Shamrocks who came before him. He is a great one.”
Catholic Central looks forward to watching Andrew shine and show his Shamrock pride next month as he competes for the national scholarship.