Shelton High School student Archit Bhargava won the annual American Legion Oratorical Contest at the Sutter-Terlizzi American Legion Post 16 of Shelton on Jan. 10.

Bhargava, one of several Shelton High students who participated, will now represent Shelton in the Third District (Fairfield County) finals to be held in Fairfield on Saturday, Feb. 15. The Third District winner moves to the state level for a chance to compete at nationals in Indianapolis.

The American Legion Oratorical Contest is designed to help develop deeper knowledge and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution among high school students. Since 1938, the program has presented participants with an academic speaking challenge that teaches important leadership qualities, the history of the nation’s laws, the ability to think and speak clearly, and an understanding of the duties, responsibilities, rights and privileges of American citizenship.

The program has featured numerous politicians and prominent contestants over the years, including former presidential candidate Alan Keyes, national television commentator and talk radio host Lou Dobbs, and Vice President Mike Pence.

The subject of the Oratorical Contest the U.S. Constitution and has been sponsored by the American Legion since 1938. To qualify, one must be enrolled in a high school, junior high school or equivalent program, and be less than the age of 20. There are two parts to this competition — first is an eight- to 10-minute speech on a prepared topic, the second is a three- to five-minute speech on an assigned topic.

At the department level, there are cash prizes for first ($1,500), second ($1,000) and third ($500) place. At national, all competitors advancing beyond the first round receive an additional $1,500 scholarship. The winner of national is awarded an $18,000 scholarship, second place nets a $16,000 scholarship, third place, a $14,000 scholarship. These are all valid at any American university or college.