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Juniors Are Among Winners in the VFW's Voice of Democracy Contest
Posted 12/11/2018 02:18PM

Montini Catholic juniors, Swarnika Sampat and Devin Hoovel were recently awarded for putting pen to paper and their voices to video and entering the Voice of Democracy Patriotic Essay Competition sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign War's (VFW) (Lombard Post 5815). Miss Sampat of Lombard took 2nd place in the contest and Mr. Hoovel of Glen Ellyn finished 3rd.

Each year, high school students are invited to compete in the essay contest which involves preparing and recording a 3 to 5 minute speech. This year's theme was - "Why My Vote Matters." Swarnika and Devin received monetary awards for their exceptional work.

Teacher, Mrs. Rita Keogh is quite proud of her students and encouraged them to enter the contest. She was very pleased to hear that they were among the winners. "Devin and Swarnika are both very hard working students," she said. "I enjoy having them in class because they are always on task and bring a positive approach to the work we do in and out of the class!"

Below is an excerpt from Miss Sampat's essay:

As an American, you cannot complain about certain problems when you have the opportunity to make a change. The only solution is voting; honor the challenge Benjamin Franklin presented to us when he was asked, "What have we got, a republic or monarchy?" He answered, "A Republic, if you can keep it!". The only way to change something is to take action, and we have to take advantage of the fact that our nation allows us to do so.

"I worked hard on the essay but I was still surprised when I got the letter saying I placed 2nd," said Swarnika, a graduate of St. Pius X Parish School. "I was very happy!" She added, "I was very passionate about the topic and I had the right guidance, so I thought I would have a good chance of doing well if I entered!"

Devin, a graduate of Hadley Junior High School in Glen Ellyn, was also pleasantly surprised by the outcome of the contest. "This was my first year entering, but I'm glad that I did!" (Below is an excerpt from Devin's essay.)

Voting is the backbone of American society, as one of the more democratic nations of the world, opinions are something we should pride ourselves on. Having the choice to choose your leaders and legislature is a privilege that many others do not have. Everyone has a voice that matters in society, but it is not always heard. With that in mind, it is clear that everyone's vote, not just my own, matters and that voice needs to be heard.

"The VFW is proud to sponsor this opportunity for students in our community and we are looking forward to hearing students' perspectives on this year's theme," said Mr. Tom Zilla, Chairman of Lombard's VFW Lilac Post 5815.

Each year, nearly 40,000 high school students from across the country enter to win a share of the $2.2 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the VFW's Voice of Democracy audio-essay competition. Their Voice of Democracy program was established in 1947 to provide high school students with an opportunity to express themselves in regards to democratic ideas and principles. The national first-place winner receives a $30,000 scholarship paid directly to the recipient's American university, college or vocational/technical school. Other national scholarships range from $1,000-$16,000, and the first-place winner from each (State) VFW Department wins an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. "

Congratulations to Swarnika and Devin for their outstanding essay," said Kevin Beirne. "We are always delighted when one of our students steps up to be a voice for our school and our nation. We are very impressed by their essays and wonderful accomplishment."

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