A local high school student has been paying a good chunk of her college expenses by winning speaking and writing contests.

Elizabeth Scannell of Goose Creek, a senior at Berkeley Middle College High School in Moncks Corner, racked up another $16,000 Sunday. She finished second in the American Legion’s Constitutional Speech Contest in Indianapolis. The contest started out Saturday with 53 contestants.

She previously won a $30,000 scholarship in an essay contest sponsored by the Ladies Auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. She also won $2,000 in an essay contest sponsored by the Fleet Reservists Association.

Her winning oration in Sunday’s contest was called “The Constitution: An American Position Description.” She had to speak for eight to 10 minutes without notes, in front of a panel of judges and a live audience. She also had to talk for three to five minutes on a topic assigned at random.

“Everybody was very nervous at first, but we ended up forming a camaraderie,” she said by telephone from Indianapolis. “We got over our nerves really quickly.”

Her father, James Scannell, was there to support her. Her mother, Dianne Scannell, did not make the trip. Both of her parents were in the Air Force. Her winning essay in the VFW contest was called “Is There Pride in Serving Our Military?”

The American Legion speech contest encourages young Americans to improve their communications skills and study the U.S. Constitution, according to the American Legion. Agnes Rieger of Kansas City, Mo., finished first to win an $18,000 scholarship with an oration called “Let’s Talk About Pennsylvania.” Rachel Schartz of Humboldt, S.D., finished third, winning $14,000.

Scannell attended Stratford High School her freshman and sophomore years and was on the varsity tennis team at Stratford. She transferred to Berkeley Middle College High school her junior year.

She plans to go to the College of Charleston and major in economics, followed by a master’s program. She said she will live at home at least the first year and commute from Goose Creek, to save on expenses.

In her spare time, she likes to read, play tennis and listen to music.

“It’s pretty much almost the typical teenager hobbies,” she said.