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Seward High’s Esten Johnsen is State Finalist in American Legion Oratorical Contest

Seward High Junior, Esten Johnsen was named the Nebraska American Legion Oratorical Winner for Area C on Sunday, December 03, 2023 at the Area C Oratorical Contest at the Seward Civic Center, hosted by the Seward American Legion Post 33.  He is the son of Steven and Angela Johnsen of Seward.  First Runner-up (Second Place) was awarded to freshman Frank Kovacs of Minden High School and Third Place was presented to senior Jack Watermolen of Lincoln Southwest High School in Lincoln, NE.

The contestants were each assigned to write and memorize an eight to ten minute speech on an aspect of the US Constitution and then draw one of four possible Amendments to the US Constitution and speak on the amendment for three to five minutes.  Each student in the contest represented their respective American Legion District in Area C.  One student is selected from each of the four areas to compete for the State Title and represent the Nebraska Department of the American Legion at the National Contest. 

Johnson’s ten minute, memorized speech on the US Constitution was titled “We the People!” He also drew Amendment V to speak on extemporaneously for three to five minutes.  He represented American Legion District 12 at the contest and was sponsored by the Seward American Legion Post 33.

Each of the first three contestants received engraved finalist trophies and Esten also received a Certificate of Honor and a check for $100 from American Legion District 12 for representing District 12 at the Area C contest. 

Esten will now compete at the state level in Kearney on January 20th and represent Area C at the State Conference.  There will be four contestants, competing for scholarships-one from each of the four “Areas” and also compete for privilege to represent the Nebraska Department of the American Legion at the National American Legion Oratorical contest, again competing for major scholarships.

The Area C Commander is Brendan J. Moore gave a welcome, along with Joe Ruzicka-Commander of the Seward American Legion Post 33.  Also recognized was District 12 Commander Martin Neal of Hickman and Eric Martin-Assistant Adjutant from the State Office.  Clark Kolterman served as the Emcee/Moderator for the contest. Ken Meyer with Seward Post 33 served as the contestant escort and Riley Nutttleman was the timer.   

Judges for the event included Vicki Luebbe-Past State President of the Nebraska VFW Auxiliary and President of VFW Post 4755 Auxiliary, Doug Cates of Lincoln and Chuck Tuttle of Nelson, Asst. Commander of District Ten. 

Kolterman thanked all involved and invited them to Kearney to the State Oratorical Contest on January 20th at the American Legion Nebraska Department’s Conference and promised details to follow.  The meeting was adjourned, followed refreshments and photos.

Photo: L-R Joe Ruzicka-American Legion Commander Post 33 of Seward, Brendan Moore-Area C Commander of Lincoln, Frank Kovac-Minden High-2nd Place Winner, Esten Johnsen-Seward High-First Place, Jack Watermolen-Lincoln Southwest High-3rd Place, Judge Vicki Luebbe-VFW Post 4755 Auxiliary President, Judge Chuck Tuttle-Nelson, Back Row L-R Eric Martin-Asst. Adjutant for State Office, Ken Meyer-American Legion Post 33, Martin Neal-District 12 Commander from Hickman and Judge Doug Cates of Lincoln.