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Esten Johnsen-SHS Sophomore, Wins First Place at American Legion District 12 Oratorical Contest

Esten Johnsen, Seward High Sophomore, was named the winner in the American Legion –NE District 12 Oratorical Contest.  He is the son Steven and Angela Johnsen of Seward.  Esten presented a nine minute, memorized speech on the US Constitution.  His speech was “We the People!” and he was asked to speak extemporaneously on the Amendment X for three to five minutes and spoke 4:30 on the topic.

Elizabeth Sanchez of Plattsmouth, NE, an Eighth Grader, was named the Champion in the Junior Division – Middle School division of the Oratorical Competition. She was sponsored by the Plattsmouth American Legion Post- Commander Ed Jones.  She also was assigned to speak on some aspect of the US Constitution and chose to address the Tenth Amendment of the US Constitution, with a speech titled “United States of America!”  Because she was in the Junior Division, she did not have a time limit, was allowed to use a notecard, and did not have to present an extemporaneous speech on an amendment.  

The American Legion District 12 Oratorical Contest was held on Sunday, November 6, 2022 at 2:00 pm at the Seward Civic Center in Seward. William “Mac” Lawrence of Weeping, NE the District 12 Commander, welcomed the group to the American Legion Oratorical District 12 Contest and Joe Ruzicka - the Seward American Legion Post #33 Commander, the hosts for the contest, welcomed the visitors to the contest and to the Seward Civic Center and Seward. The gathering opened with the Pledge of Allegiance to the US Flag.  Ken Meyer of the Seward American Legion Post 33, served as the District 12 Oratorical Chairman and as Sargent of Arms for the speakers.

Each contestant was asked to prepare and write an eight to ten minute oration on some aspect of the US Constitution, then draw one of four US Constitution Amendments and then was asked to speak extemporaneously for three to five minutes on the selected Amendment.  The Amendments selected for the contest were Amendments VI, X, XIV-Section 1 or Amendment XVI. 

Esten was awarded a special “Thomas Bosmeniel” Memorial trophy, a gold medal and will receive a $100 cash scholarship from their District Contest, after he attends and participates in the American Legion Area C contest, which is a requirement of the scholarship award.  The Area C Contest will be held in Seward, at the Seward Civic Center on Sunday, December 6th at 2:00 pm, again hosted by American Legion Post 33 of Seward.  Sanchez also received a Gold Medal for being the Junior Champion.

The “Thomas Bosmeniel” Memorial trophy is presented annually by his family and friends in memory of the late Thomas Bosmeniel, who died in 2018, during his freshman year at the University of Nebraska. Thomas had been the winner of the District 12 American Legion Speech Contest twice-sponsored by Post 33, won the American Legion Area C Oratorical Contest twice and was a State American Legion Finalist twice. He had loved the American Legion Oratorical Contest and the values of its program and was also a proud alum of the American Legion Boys State program.

Judges for the 2022 event were educators-Cliff Lowell and Zane Francescato, both of Seward.  Riley Nuttleman served as the timer for the contest. William Lawrence served as the Tally Master.  Refreshments followed the contest. Clark Kolterman –Seward, served as the program emcee.  

Esten will represent the District 12 at the American Legion Oratorical Area contest on December 6th at the Seward Civic Center in Seward at 2:00 pm in the East Basement Room and compete against three other District winners for the opportunity to represent the area at the Nebraska State American Legion Oratorical State Contest in January.  


Photo L-R Speech Judge Zane Francescato-Seward, Post 33 Commander-Joe Ruzicka of Seward, District 12 Oratorical Chair-Ken Meyer-Seward, District 12 Commander William Mac Lawrence of Weeping Water, Ne, SHS Sophomore and Grand Champion-American Legion District 12 Oratorical Contest -Esten Johnsen-Seward, American Legion District 12 Champion of the Junior Division-Elizabeth Sanchez of Plattsmouth, Ed Jones-Commander of Plattsmouth American Legion Post, Timer- Riley Nuttleman, Speech Judge Cliff Lowell.