For the second year in a row, Ketchikan High School student Cheyenne Mathews will represent Alaska at the American Legion Oratorical national championship in April.
Cheyenne Mathews will again this year make her way to American Legion headquarters in Indiana.
“I’m excited. It was fun last year, too. I guess I was really excited just to travel to Indiana, because I’d never been there, so it was fun to walk around Indianapolis and the competition was fun.”
At the state contest in February she competed against four other Alaskans. In Indiana she will face 49 other high schoolers with persuasive constitutional speeches.
Mathews avoided a speech about the First Amendment, because she says it’s the most talked about aspect. She begins her eight to 10 minute speech with a personal story.
“The other day in my AP government class, my teacher decided you let us play a game. She handed us cards, dice and paperclips, then instructed us to play the game. We looked at her very confused. What were the rules? What’s the structure and the order? Finally after a few confusing moments wondering how to play the game our teacher told us we were replicating a process the founder of the United States of America also went through. She said that when they came together to form some type of government, they had all the ingredients for the game, but they had to create the structure the rules and the order. In other words, they had to form a constitution.”
The persuasive aspect of her speech emphasizes a need to continue drawing on past knowledge, like the founders did. She says the founders drew inspiration from the Magna Carta, English Bill of Rights, enlightenment philosophers and confederate failures.
It is the same speech she gave at the local and state level. “It’s hard to memorize eight to 10 minute speeches. I have, like, three in my brain right now, because I just went to debate state.”
Mathews also is on the Kayhi Debate Team. She and her partner Audrey Kistler recently took the public forum debate championship, bringing the win to Ketchikan for the first time in 20 years. As an individual, she placed first in expository speaking.
Mathews plans on continuing debate in college at University of Alaska Anchorage, where she plans to study journalism and political science.