VFW recognizes students for top essays, speeches
December 19, 2017
The Veterans of Foreign Wars Chapter 2002 and its auxiliary recognized Churchill County students for their participation in both the Patriot's Pen and Voice of Democracy contests.
The Patriot's Pen program called for students in the middle-school grades (sixth through eighth) to write a 300-to-400-word essay that examines both America's history, along with the students' own experiences in modern American society. They expressed their views based on a patriotic theme chosen by the VFW commander-in-chief, which was "America's Gift to My Generation."
Mike Terry, VFW Post's 1002 co-chairman of education programs, said more than 90 students from Oasis Academy participated in the Patriot's Pen essay contest. Terry and VFW Auxiliary President and co-chair Melissa Nusi recognized the top five students from Oasis.
Terry said he was pleased with the turnout and also with the support from the community in providing gift certificates for the students
Earning first place was Cailan Menius-Rash, eighth grade, who received $125 from the VFW and gift certificates from Jerry's Restaurant, Jeff's Digitex, Dairy Queen and Pizza Factory.
Halle Feest, sixth grade, placed second and received gift certificates from the Stockman's Dairy Queen and Pizza Factory.
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Third-place went to Eliza Pike, eighth grade, who received gift certificates from J.D. Slingers, McDonald's, Dairy Queen and Pizza Factory.
Eighth-graders Alfredo Andrade, who placed fourth, and Joshua Yules, fifth place, each received certificates from Pizza Factory, McDonald's and Dairy Queen.
Terry said a panel of current and retired teachers and librarians judged the essays. He said students wrote on topics about women's rights, patriotism, modern technology and medical marijuana.
Menius-Rash's essay focused on the "Gift of Education."
"Freedom of education in America gives every child in the country the right to the education they deserve," Menius-Rash wrote. "Race, religion, gender or social class do not determine a child's right to be educated."
She also wrote that freedom of education makes it affordable unlike other countries where the most affluent learn.
She concluded by writing, "Overall, the gift of freedom is a gift my country has given to me as a student, a person and as an American."
Terry said a Schurz student won the district contest.
Churchill County High School placed three students in the Voice of Democracy essay/speech contest, which had the theme of "American History: Our Hope for the Future." Terry said the Voice of Democracy audio-essay program provides high school students in grades 9-12 to express themselves in a democratic and patriotic-themed recorded essay.
Matt Goings, a senior, placed first followed by senior Christian Nemeth and sophomore Ashby Trotter. Terry said the district winner attends school in Hawthorne.
The title of Goings' essay was "The Foundation of Liberty." The Fallon senior wrote, "The Constitution, and one specifically the Bill of Rights, is one of the most important documents in American history. As the Preamble states, '… I order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility …' the Founding Fathers were striving for a peaceful existence."
Goings further stated, "The gift to criticize and expose government overreach is a crucial element in a free society. We also have the right to worship as we please or not worship at all." The Fallon senior said without the Bill of Rights, people's liberty "is in grave danger, and we could find ourselves at the mercy of oppressive tyrants."
For first place, Goings received a check for $250 from Post 1002 and gift certificates from Jeff's Digitex and Sandwinds.
Overall, Terry said Fallon businesses donated $530 in gift certificates in recognition of the VFW's Patriot's Pen and Voice of Democracy winners. He also said Stockman's gave each recognized participant $50.