Wayne Christian freshman brings home prize for speech
By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on April 24, 2006 1:50 PM
A 15-year-old Wayne Christian School student finished second in the national American Legion Oratorical Contest over the weekend, earning a total of $17,500 in scholarship money in the process.
Terrie Nelson was the first freshman in 69 years to represent North Carolina in the contest, which has been sponsored for decades by the American Legion to promote patriotism and an understanding of the United States Constitution.
The competition was held in Indianapolis, the site of the American Legion's national headquarters.
Miss Nelson, who represented Wayne's American Legion Post 11, said some of the other competitors told her that, given her age and inexperience, she likely would not take a top spot.
"It's OK. You can come back next year," she said they told her.
She was disappointed that she didn't take first place. A student from Tennessee finished first, earning an $18,000 scholarship. Fifty-three students competed in the finals, including representatives from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and a military base in Germany.
Miss Nelson said she believes her lack of experience actually helped her in the finals. Knowing she was inexperienced made her try harder, she said.
Her mother, Barbara, is a teacher at Wayne Christian and has coached several young people who have entered the annual contest. That also gave her an edge, she said.
Miss Nelson competed against Puerto Rico, Nevada, Maine, Alabama and New Jersey in the quarter finals. There were three quarter finals, and the six winners of that competition received silver medals.
Miss Nelson went into the last round Sunday against students from New York and Massachusetts.
The Nelson family has lived in Wayne County since August. Terrie's father, Ricky, is in the military.
Roy Jones, historian and chaplain for the Legion Post 11, said the organization is extremely proud of Miss Nelson and hopes she will deliver her speech at schools around the county.
Miss Nelson finished second in the North Carolina competition held at the Charles B. Aycock Birthplace in March. But the winner, Zachary Simmons of Fuquay-Varina, decided not to compete at the national level.
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