Central Catholic senior gives his all in American Legion speech contest

Central Catholic High School student Marc Etchepare, 17
Central Catholic High School student Marc Etchepare, 17 Modesto Bee

A Central Catholic High School senior's quest for scholarship gold ended in Indianapolis on Saturday afternoon.

Marc Etchepare made it to the national quarterfinals of the American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Program, a contest in which students give speeches about the Constitution. Nine semifinalists competed for the top three awards of $18,000, $16,000 and $14,000. Etchepare won $3,450 at the local and state contests.

His father, Jim Etchepare, said Marc competed in the prepared and extemporaneous stages Saturday morning. Titled "Providing for the Common Defense," Marc gave the same speech that carried him to victory at the post, area, district and state levels.

Jim Etchepare said his favorite part of the prepared speech was the same as his son's -- an excerpt from Gen. George S. Patton's remarks to troops on the eve of D-Day: "Americans despise losers. Americans love winners. That's why Americans have never lost a war ... "

Etchepare also gave brief, spontaneous remarks on the 14th Amendment. The young Etchepare, who could not be reached for comment, is interested in politics and will enroll at the University of California at Davis this fall.

"It's been a fantastic ... and wonderful learning experience," Jim Etchepare said. "I hope more students will get involved (next year)."

Bee staff writer Roger W. Hoskins can be reached at or 578-2311.