Pictured: Back row (L to R) American Legion Family members, Beth Nehring, Don Bergeron, Marge Christianson. Front Row: (L to R) Cochrane and Doerksen.
Photos courtesy of American Legion Auxiliary Department of Arizona
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Pinnacle Peak HS senior wins oratorical contest, advances to regionals


PHOENIX – Pinnacle Peak High School senior, Kylie Cochrane, and Verrado High School freshman, Caleb Doerksen, earned first and second place awards, in the 2018 American Legion District 11 Oratorical Contest.
The contest is designed to develop deeper knowledge and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution among high school students, as well as to teach them important public speaking skills. Entrants must speak about some aspect of the U.S. Constitution, with some emphasis on the duties and obligations of citizens to our government.
Cochrane is no stranger to the American Legion family programs. This past summer, she attended the week long American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) girls state program which emphasizes the workings of the Arizona government and responsible citizenship, and was prestigiously elected as Secretary of State in the 2017 program.
“One hundred percent of Americans utilize their right to free speech, 100 percent use their right to choose religion (or not), 100 percent use their right to assemble when and where they wish,” said Cochrane to the audience during her first-place oratorical presentation. “Yet only 56 percent of eligible voters actually voted in the last election.”
Calling upon her own experience as a millennial, she called for more civics training in schools. In her easy presentation style, she reminded the audience that participation in government can happen through voting or volunteering in the community.
Cochrane plans to study broadcast journalism and political science in the fall. In addition to advancing to the next level of competition, Cochrane was awarded $100 at the contest.
Doerksen’s second-place presentation centered around the famous “Liberty tree” that stood as a rally site in Boston in the years before the American Revolution. Doerksen explained that like the tree, the constitution is a living document that continues to grow and change. He was awarded $75 at the competition. 
Cochrane and Doerksen will now proceed to the next competitive level which will include high school speakers from the entire Phoenix Metro area. The state level competition will be held in Ahwatukee on March 3. Winners from each level of Arizona competition will receive a cash award.
One Arizona contestant will proceed to the national competition in Indianapolis, and the national first-place winner will receive an $18,000 scholarship. Second-place takes home $16,000 scholarship and third-place will receive a $14,000 scholarship.
The Arizona American Legion’s Oratorical Chairman is, Roger Munchbach, and he has been involved with the program for over 20 years. He attests that it is an inspiration to work with these students as they become responsible adults.
The Arizona State American Legion Oratorical competition is on March 3, at 10 a.m., located at the Ahwatukee Recreation Center, 5001 E. Cheyenne Dr.
For information about the American Legion Family programs email, aladeptazpr@gmail.com.