Madonna’s Durante places in Legion’s national speech event

NATIONAL FINALIST — Chad Durante, a Follansbee resident and sophomore at Weirton Madonna High School, placed third at the national level of the American Legion’s Constitutional Speech Contest after advancing from sectional, regional and state levels of the competition. He has received a $14,000 college scholarship for his efforts. -- Contributed

FOLLANSBEE — A Follansbee teen and sophomore at Weirton Madonna High School has placed third in a national competition testing both teens’ speaking skills and knowledge of the U.S. Constitution.

Chad Durante has been awarded a $14,000 college scholarship after defeating all but two teens from 53 states and territories who competed in the American Legion High School Constitutional Speech Contest, a competition that involved three rounds held Saturday and Sunday in Indianapolis.

“I was just praying to get out of the first round. I was shocked but very pleased,” Durante said.

In each round Durante was required to deliver an eight to 10 minute speech he had prepared on an issue involving the Constitution and a three to five minute speech on a randomly selected Constitutional issue.

The son of Ralph and Tammy Durante, Durante said he and other participants were given four possible topics for the extemporaneous speaking portion, and he spoke on the same topic, the 16th Amendment, for two rounds and another, the 10th Amendment, for the third.

The 16th Amendment sets provisions for the federal government to levy an income tax, while the 10th Amendment confirms powers not assumed by the federal government belong to the states.

Durante said he chose the electoral college as the constitutional topic for his prepared speech.

“I like to pick a heated topic,” he said, noting when he competed last year he spoke on the 2nd Amendment, best known as the right to bear arms.

Durante said the victory of President Trump through an electoral vote, rather than a popular one, has raised the issue for some of whether such a procedure should exist.

But he said the electoral college helps to ensure states with larger populations don’t decide every election and the voices of smaller states are heard by candidates.

“We don’t want to make it easy for those guys. We want to make sure they go to every state,” Durante said.

As with last year, Durante advanced to the competition after winning at sectional, regional and state competitions. As the host of the sectional competition, Moundsville American Legion Post 3 sponsored Durante’s participation in the national event.

For advancing to the national level last year, Durante received a $1,500 scholarship. He said because he’s previously competed at the national level, that scholarship will go to the state’s second place recipient this year.

Asked about his future plans, Durante said he is interested in medicine or law.

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