top of page

Oratorical Contest

The American Legion Oratorical Contest exists to develop deeper knowledge and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution among high school students.Young orators earn some of the most generous college scholarships available to high school students. 


Over $203,500 in scholarships can be awarded each year. The overall national contest winner gets a $25,000 scholarship. Second place takes home $22,500, and third gets $20,000. Each department (state) winner who is certified into and participates in the national contest’s first round receives a $2,000 scholarship. Those who advance past the first round receive an additional $2,000 scholarship. The American Legion’s National Organization awards the scholarships, which can be used at any college or university in the United States.


High school student contestants must be either legally domiciled within or attend an educational institution in the District of Columbia. Students under the age 20 are eligible.  High school students graduating early during the school year are eligible as long as they are not enrolled in ANY institutions of higher learning to include trade schools.


The DC 2021 contest will be held on Saturday 6 February 2021. Contact us for specific details. For general information, visit

Boys State

American Legion Boys State is among the most respected and selective educational programs of government instruction for U.S. high school students. A participatory program in which students become part of the operation of local, county and state government, Boys State was founded in 1935 to counter the socialism-inspired Young Pioneer Camps. The program was the idea of two Illinois Legionnaires, Hayes Kennedy and Harold Card, who organized the first Boys State at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.

American Legion Auxiliary sponsors a separate but similar program for young women called Girls State.

At Boys State, participants learn the rights, privileges and responsibilities of franchised citizens. The training is objective and centers on the structure of city, county and state governments. Operated by students elected to various offices, Boys State activities include legislative sessions, court proceedings, law-enforcement presentations, assemblies, bands, choruses and recreational programs. 



To provide an outstanding, unique, and coveted educational opportunity for the young men of our nation that instills basic ideals and principles of American government through citizenship training programs. Students become knowledgeable of democratic processes and how our republic works at state (or District of Columbia) and national levels. Some of the most prominent and influential US leaders, scholars, and statesmen have participated in Boys State.

Program Objectives

  • Develop leadership and pride in American citizens.

  • Educate citizens about our system of government.

  • Instill a greater understanding of American traditions.

  • Stimulate a desire to maintain the democratic government processes in our republic.


Selection Criteria

Legion posts select high school juniors to attend Boys State. To be eligible, young men must be rising high school students who have completed their junior year (and have at least one semester left before graduation), and be keenly interested in government and current events.

All students must possess high moral character; show strong leadership abilities, and demonstrate above-average scholastic achievement.

*HS juniors who live in VA & MD are also accepted.



Boys State program costs are underwritten by each American Legion Department. Boys State delegate registration fees are paid for by the sponsoring local American Legion unit with additional support and funding sometimes coming from other civic and/or nonprofit organizations. Participating students may incur nominal expenses for transportation, site-specific fees, or contribution to an optional service project.


Leveling Up: Boys Nation

Every year, two outstanding boys from each program are selected to attend American Legion Boys Nation in Washington, D.C. As Boys Nation “senators,” they campaign for political office, craft and debate the passage of legislation, and meet with their real-life counterparts on Capitol Hill. Besides a chance to experience the workings of federal government personally, they gain further opportunities to sharpen their leadership skills and learn American heritage. They also may be afforded the opportunity to meet with the President of the United States. Details are available at



While Department of the District of Columbia revitalizes its Boys State program, future Girls State program plans are in discussion. At this time, Virginia and Maryland, which both have longstanding, successful Boys State programs, also offer Girls State programs.



Please contact The American Legion, Department of the District of Columbia, at

Phone (202) 450-1998
2112 Varnam St., N.E. 3d floor
Washington, DC 20018


For a comprehensive listing of all American Legion programs,visit 

bottom of page