BURLINGTON — Burlington High School students enrolled in honors speech participated in this year’s Voice of Democracy Audio-Essay Contest sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Of the 85 Burlington High School applicants, six advanced to the district level. Sophomore Grace Geyso received first place at the district level and will be one of 10 competitors at the state level.

Veteran Michael Egner, a representative from local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2823, presented an award to Geyso and other awardees in the Auditorium at the Burlington High School on Dec. 20. Ranked winners included Geyso, Rosemary Pinter (second), Ryan Follis (third) with Dalton Damon, Gwen Kosirog, and Katherine Schopp receiving honorable mention. All participants received a certificate.

Earlier in the semester Egner visited the three honors speech sections to invite students to participate in the contest and to share this year’s theme "American History: Our Hope for the Future."

He encouraged students to write and record a three- to five-minute essay that addresses the two facets of the theme history and hope. “I encouraged students to personally answer ‘What is my hope for the future?’ in their essay,” he said.

In her essay, Geyso portrays America as a person with an individual history. Then she shared her hope, which is that while America has many divisions today, she wants America to become united as one body not only in crisis, but in all endeavors.

Egner said, “This contest is an important program to VFW.” He works with a judging team that values quality applicants. This is Egner’s sixth year judging Voice of Democracy entries for the post and his fourth year working with Matt Nie, the honors speech teacher at Burlington High School.

Nie said, “It has been an invaluable experience for students to not just do an assignment confined to the four walls of a classroom, but make a connection with the VFW and the amazing sacrifice that these veterans have and continue to make for our country.”

Established in 1947, the Voice of Democracy audio-essay program provides high school students with the opportunity to express themselves through a democratic and patriotic-themed recorded essay. Each year, nearly 40,000 high school students from across the country enter to win the educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the program.

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