A Churchill County High School senior has won this year’s District 4 contest in the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars Voice of Democracy speech contest.
Ashby Trotter, a senior at Churchill County High School who won both the district and state competition last year, learned last week she will be competing at the state level next month in Elko.
Mike Terry, who has been involved as chairman with the essay, speech and teacher-of-the-year programs for Fallon’s VFW Post 1002 and Auxiliary, commended Trotter and the second- and third-place contestants from Oasis Academy. The VFW also recognized district Voice of Democracy participants Jayden Wassmuth and McKay Winder, also from CCHS.
This year’s theme for both the Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen essay contest from younger students in either middle or junior high school is “What Makes America Great.” Students are eligible to win a portion of $154,000 in national awards, and the top scholarship is $30,000. The VFW established the Voice of Democracy program in 1947 to provide the opportunity for the students to express themselves in regards democratic ideas and principles. Terry said Post 1002 received 70 entries for the Patriot’s Pen contest.
Trotter finished seventh at nationals after competing against first-place students from other states and territories in Washington, D.C. She received an all-expense paid trip to visit the nation’s memorials and monuments with other winners and also attended a special leadership conference. Terry said judges listened to every student’s recorded essay.
In this year’s speech, she said the United States is a single entity in a sea of others that has undergone many changes — some for the better and others for the worse; however she said “America has undergone battles and hardships, but throughout these, it has remained a beacon to guide the lost to safety. Its keepers lead ships securely across waters and save those who are drowning.”
Trotter said immigrants have come to this country because it offers opportunity and freedom.
“Our light shines on everything around it, illuminating the world with patriotism, pride and hope,” she wrote, adding an all-volunteer military represents sacrifice and citizens “work and strive to crate the unimaginable.”
In her closing, Trotter said. “I believe our greatness in evident in our diversity and in the fact that people are drawn to this land like ships lost in the dark seas are drawn to the lighthouse. This light is protected only due to the brave men and women who sacrifice their lives to defend it.”
Terry, along with Army veteran Margaret Falk, the post’s quartermaster, and Linda Hartweg, the co-chairperson of the contests and a member of the Auxiliary, visited each school to present awards.
The post’s second-place winner in the Voice of Democracy speech contest was Matthew Catlin, a junior at Oasis Academy. Oasis students Christina Robinson and Dylan Faught placed second and third, respectively, in the Patriot’s Pen. Leah Baker received a Certificate of Merit.
Mason Storm, a seventh-grader at Logos Christian Academy, took first in the Patriot’s Pen. Others who were recognized included James Thibodaux and Ethan Mitchell, both sixth-grade students. Ashley Jimenez, a student at Churchill County Middle School, received a certificate for placing fourth in District 4.