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RHS freshman competes in regional American Legion oratorical contest

By Sue Sitter - | Jan 23, 2021

Submitted Photo Rugby High School freshman Hayley Mayer, center, sits onstage with fellow contestants Jack Manstrom, left, of Wyndmere, and Jacob Schultz, right, of Fargo. All three competed in the North Dakota American Legion East Regional Oratorical Contest.

A Rugby High School freshman traveled to Park River Jan. 16 to compete against two top speakers in the North Dakota American Legion Oratorical Contest.

Haley Mayer, daughter of Scott and Tami Mayer of Rugby, competed against a sophomore and a senior from Wyndmere and Fargo in the eastern regional round of the contest. The winner of regionals, Jacob Schultz of Fargo, will face west region winner Ellie Schmitz of Watford City. Jack Manstrom of Wyndmere also competed against Mayer in the east region, placing second.

Mayer won a combined contest for Rugby’s Clarence Larson American Legion Post and the district in November at Rugby’s First Lutheran Church.

“She did very well,” Haley’s mom, Tami Mayer said. “I’m proud of her. To get up there and be able to speak in front of everybody, it was a fantastic opportunity that she had. We’re very thankful for the American Legion.”

Haley Mayer said she became involved with competitive speech in the seventh grade at Rugby Middle School.

She said one of her favorite events is “an event called impromptu speech. You get a quote card and you have to think of different people who have shown if (the quote) is true or not, and you have to give a seven-minute speech on why you believe it or not. All that has to be off the top of your head. You have about 45 seconds or so to prepare.”

Mayer said the competition in Park River was “a little nerve-wracking, especially since both (other contestants) had done it before.”

“It was quite fun,” she added.

Mayer said she has learned a few tricks to keep her nerves steady on Rugby High’s speech team, coached by Dana Thoreson.

“I just like to look at one person really, so I can just zone in and don’t have to worry about everything else going on around me,” Mayer said.

“I like speech because it really gets me out of my shell. It gets me talking more often. It’s fun because there’s a bunch of things you can do,” Mayer said. “You can do prepared speeches; you can do speeches you make up off the top of your head. It’s just a good experience and you can learn more stuff. You can learn how to speak in front of people.”

Mayer said the regional competition “went well.”

Mayer’s speech at regionals “was a prepared speech off topics assigned topics that you had to make off the top of your head,” she noted. “I was a little less nervous for the assigned ones because I have a bad time memorizing stuff and I didn’t have to follow them word for word.”

“The topics were different articles that were in the Constitution. One of them was Article 2 Section 3, which is about the responsibilities of the president and how he can be an ambassador for the country. There are ones on how he can talk,” Mayer said.

Another part of the competition included “a bunch of (topics) that you got ahead of time. That way, you can find information on them ahead of time and get ready beforehand,” Mayer said. “There’s lots of studying involved.”

Mayer said her topic came from the Bill of Rights.

“It talks about how the president can talk about the state of the union; how he can serve as a foreign ambassador, how he can communicate with the House of Representatives in Congress,” she added.

Mayer received a cash prize of $100 for placing third in the regional contest. She said she was grateful for the opportunity to contribute toward college with her prize money from districts and regionals.

Rugby Clarence Larson Post Commander John Gustafson said he was proud of Mayer as well, although he wasn’t able to attend the contest.

“I’m just very happy Haley had the chance to be able to go to the next level and compete,” Gustafson said. “Next year, it’s hard to say where she may wind up. By her senior year, we may be reading about her competing at the national level.”

“I might stay with it,” Mayer said of the program. “It all depends on how everything goes with the pandemic and everything going on in the world right now.”

Mayer added, “I think it’s just an amazing program and more people should take the opportunity to try it out.”

The American Legion Oratorical Contest is open to students in grades 9-12 in public, private or home schools. For more information, contact Gustafson at (701) 681-9329.

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