Travels to Nationals

Senior Aya Kasim goes to American Legion Oratorical Nationals


This is it, the final chapter of Aya Kasim’s run through the American Legion Oratorical competitions, facing the best of the best speakers from across the country, each with their own unique viewpoint and voice on the nation. One cannot be anything but interested in what these people had to think of America- was there a collective theme? Were there any scathing reviews as if America was a fast-food place with a slow drive-thru? Or was it mostly just patriotic praise of the nation?


What sets this competition apart from the other three?


How big the experience is, they flew me out to Indianapolis. I have never gone so North, and met people from every state. 


Since you use the same speech for each competition, do you practice the speech in any way at all prior to this competition? Or do you basically have it set into your mind by now?


Even though I have done the same speech for months now, I still practice like crazy: in the shower, on the way to school, even the day before we left, I practiced in front of Dr. Jones 6th period class in the PAC because you never know when your brain will hiccup and forget it all.


What was your favorite part about going to Nationals?


Being able to spend the weekend with Dr. Jones, Mrs. Jones, and Sierra Christa [a fellow Senior here at MVHS]. Having those little moments with them, at the airport, at dinner, just all the little moments.


What is your favorite part about the competition itself?


Being able to meet so many inspiring people, especially veterans. At the National competition, I got to meet the National Vice Commander of the American Legion and he said that my speech brought him to tears, which shocked me. 


What were the results?


I advanced to the semi-finals and I ranked in the Top 18 in the country. During the competition, I earned $4,000 in scholarships.


What are your thoughts on the results?


I performed exactly how I wanted to perform and I have absolutely no regrets. At the end of the day, it was all in the judges’ hands and I respect their decision. It was an amazing weekend and I would not change anything.


What/who helped you the most in getting to the American Legion Oratory Nationals?


100% Dr. Jones and Mrs. Jones. Dr. Jones approached me at the end of my freshman year and introduced me to the competition and coached me. This is as much my win as it his, I would never have expected to get this far and make it all the way to the National Semi-Finals. 


From all the way back in December, to today, Aya has made a lot of progress in the American Legion Oratory competition, defeating at least 33 other states of students including Texas) to make it to the semifinals. A great precedent has been set by Aya, hopefully one that is continued here at Medina Valley.