PRESS RELEASE: Senator Hwang and Reps Bolinsky & Foncello Serve as Judges at CT American Legion District 3 Oratory Contest

February 14, 2024

For Immediate Release

February 13, 2024

Senator Hwang and Reps Bolinsky & Foncello Serve as Judges at CT American Legion District 3 Oratory Contest

2/11/24 – Senator Tony Hwang (R-28), and Representatives Mitch Bolinsky (R-106) and Marty Foncello (R-107), attended the annual American Legion Oratorical Contest for Connecticut District 3, held at the Fairfield Public Library.  The Newtown Delegation was joined by Representatives David Rutigliano (R-123 / Trumbull), and Sarah Keitt (D-134 / Fairfield).   The lawmakers served as contest judges, and proud observers of the four District finalists, Nicholas D’Amico of Newtown, Alexa Kwarcinski of Newtown, Alexander Beneat of Shelton, and Michael Iacovacci of Stamford. Michael was awarded first place in the contest, followed by Nicholas in second place.

The annual American Legion District 3 contest is open to youth from Fairfield County High Schools and the American Legion. Each contestant begins at a host High School in their town and top finishers advance through District, and State, with the chance to compete at the National level for prizes up to $25,000.

Participants each present a prepared oration and an assigned topic with specific time constraints. Objectives of the contest include the development of leadership qualities, the ability to think and speak clearly and intelligently, and the preparation for acceptance of the duties and responsibilities, the rights, and privileges of American citizenship under the US Constitution.  Judging is based on knowledge of the topic, presentation, persuasiveness, poise, gestures, and other criteria that contribute to effective public speaking.

“This competition teaches young people the consequential impact of civics and our constitution. It prepares them to speak before a group as a leader. They learn leadership qualities by demonstrating their insightful knowledge of the US Constitution. When you learn the subject matter and are able to talk about it in a setting before strangers, that is teaching you the qualities of leadership,” said Thomas Moore, Commander of the American Legion Department of Connecticut.

“It is encouraging to see these student scholars’ passion and zeal for developing their persuasive oratory skills,” said Senator Hwang. “It is fitting that this oratorical competition was conducted so close to Lincoln’s birthday, a great orator himself. As these students develop their public speaking skills, they become better prepared to become community leaders and advocate for their fellow citizens in the future. We should always seek to create opportunities such as this one to inspire an interest in advocacy and civics.”

Rep Bolinsky, a ‘Son of the American Legion’ member, added: “I thank the Legion for this opportunity to serve as a judge at this fabulous event!  It takes a lot of courage to get up and speak authoritatively in front of a room full of strangers about a complex Constitutional topic, especially when given just a few minutes to prep.  All four spoke beautifully, with conviction and great reason. They were amazing, and, to learn that two of these fine young speakers, Nick and Alexa, are Newtown residents made me very proud.”

“The students competing in this year’s contest showed great skill in public speaking, outlining well-organized speeches about their chosen topic. They were direct and to the point when talking about the assigned amendments to the Constitution. I know it could have been very difficult for them to weigh in on some of them and I appreciate the fully developed thoughts they shared,” said Rep. Foncello, a Veteran and American Legion member.

From our Newtown contestants:

“I’m more than grateful for this opportunity the American legion has given me. It’s not just a speech contest, it’s an amazing opportunity to meet great people, push yourself outside your comfort zone, and dig deeper into today’s American politics,” said Nicholas D’Amico (Senior, Newtown High School).

“Creating a ten-minute dissertation was challenging. To go up there in front of state representatives and state senators without a visual aid, and to be judged on our performance was a new experience. It was good overall, I really enjoyed it and I am definitely going to do it next year,” added Alexa Kwarcinski (Junior, Newtown High School).

Ernie Foito, Commander of Post 141 and Chair of the contest concluded: “The kids are so talented. You can tell how hard they work to deliver these speeches with tact and effectiveness. Events like this help signify to young people the importance of public speaking and advocacy.  It is also about instilling a commitment to continued service for the community. As a veteran, it brings me great joy to see these kids develop a sense of duty to their local communities and their country.”

From left to right: Marie Randle (Newtown HS Graduate, 2016 and teacher at Norwalk High School), State Representative Marty Foncello, State Senator Tony Hwang, Alexa Kwarcinski (Junior, Newtown High School), Nicholas D’Amico (Senior, Newtown High School), State Representative Mitch Bolinsky, Don Ramsey (Newtown Board of Ed) Photo taken by Jackson Shostack