Christian Fulcher, a senior at Mississippi School for Math and Science and former student at Cleveland Central High School, won first place in the Mississippi Delta Post 1776 Competition of The American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Program – “A Constitutional Speech Contest” on Dec. 7.

Fulcher won with his speech entitled “First Amendment – Past and Future.”  Fulcher is now eligible to compete in a district level contest to be announced and earn more scholarship awards, all of which are donated by Mississippi Delta Post 1776, which operates “Bingo Baby” in Cleveland.  At the conclusion of the contest, in commemoration and celebration of the reopening of the Ellis Theater, Post 1776 donated a standing U.S. flag for the stage and presented a $1,000 donation to Delta Arts Alliance Executive Director Rori Eddie Herbison.

Serving as judges for this contest were three distinguished residents of Cleveland:  Mr. Larry Harris, Veteran Service Outreach Officer, Delta State University; Ms. Lynn Shurden, Retired Director, Bolivar County Library System; and the Honorable Gwendolyn J. Thomas, Senior Status Judge and Mediator and Retired County and Youth Court Judge, Bolivar County, Mississippi.

Following area level contests in February, the State Final Contest for Mississippi will be held March 7, 2020 at 1:30 p.m. at the Eagle Ridge Conference Center, Hinds Community College in Raymond.  The State Champion will represent Mississippi in the National Finals at Indianapolis, Indiana, April 17-19, 2020, and the National Final Contest will be web-cast live via on Sunday morning April 19, at 9 a.m. CDT.

 Now in its 83rd year, the American Legion National High School Oratorical Contest was designed to develop a deeper knowledge and appreciation of the U.S. Constitution on the part of high school students.  Other objectives include the development of leadership qualities as well as the ability to think and speak clearly and intelligently.  This is the toughest speech contest in the nation for high school students because they must speak without notes, lectern, props, or a sound system on some aspect of the U.S. Constitution with emphasis on the duties, obligations, rights, and privileges of American citizenship.  Each year, 53 Champions from the nation and around the world compete in the National Finals for scholarships worth thousands of dollars.  Students in grades 9-12 interested in competing should sign up online at for more detailed information.