ELKINS - Local teen Lauren Spears will represent the American Legion Ninth District in the National High School Oratorical Scholarship Competition, slated for April in Indianapolis, Ind. Lauren gandered first place wins in the district competition in Elkins, the sectional competition in Romney and most recently, the state competition in Shinnston March 8.
"I am excited for the national competition," Lauren said. "I have memorized my speech and have tweaked everything and I am ready."
Lauren said along with the eight to 10 minute speech she has written and memorized, she must learn about four of the United States Constitution's amendments.
West Virginia State American Legion Ninth District Oratorical Scholarship winner Lauren Spears, of Elkins, receives her award from Dennis Calain, First Vice Commander Post No. 29; Frank Nicholson, West Virginia Department commander, and Tom Domingo, Commander Post No. 29.
"Just before we have to speak, we are given one of four amendments we must speak about," she said. "This extemporaneous speech must be three to five minutes long. I am well-versed on the four amendments and prepared to speak."
Additionally, Lauren said she has been invited to speak Friday at the American Legion Dinner.
Lauren is the first state winner in 39 years from the American Legion Ninth District, including Randolph, Tucker, Pocahontas, Nicholas, Braxton and Greenbrier counties. State winners from the Ninth District from Elkins include David Conway in 1968, Thomas Craig Jr. in 1963, Patsy Dugan in 1960 and Joyce Ann Rohr in 1959. Jim Spears, Lauren's father, won the sectional title in 1971.
Barbara Burdett, Ninth District Chairperson, was thrilled to finally have the eastern part of the state claim the State Champion.
"Lauren has been so inspiring to so many people," Burdett said. "She is so good, I knew she would win."
Lauren is a ninth-grader at Highland Adventist School in Elkins. She is the daughter of Jim and Ellen Spears. She is a member of the Old Brick Playhouse Apprentice Program and has played piano for more than seven years. She has previously played Upward Basketball and soccer.
"The National High School Oratorical Scholarship Program is a great experience," Lauren said. "I hope anyone who wants to learn more about the U.S. Constitution and public speaking takes advantage of the program."
Lauren said she is considering two majors to pursue.
"I would like to study political science and earn a law degree," Lauren said. "I would also like to study biology and become a doctor. I think either way, I want to go into politics."
Politics is not new to Lauren's family. Her grandmother, Jae Spears, was one of the first female senators in West Virginia. Her father, Jim, was the chief of staff for Gov. Joe Manchin and her mother, Ellen, worked under U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd.
Among the awards provided to the winner of the state competition is a four-year state college and university systems
The National High School Oratorical Scholarship Program was created in 1937 and is a part of the National Americanism program of the American Legion.
Its purpose is to create interest, appreciation and a better knowledge of the United States on the part of high school students.