BURLINGTON — Burlington High School sophomore Grace Geyso has placed second in the state Voice of Democracy Audio-Essay Contest. Geyso had received first place at the district level earlier in the school year.

BHS students enrolled in honors speech participated in the local contest, which is sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The theme was “American History: Our Hope for the Future.”

Of the 85 Burlington High School applicants, six advanced to the district level. Geyso received first place at the district level and was 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 at Burlington High School Dec. 20. Ranked winners in the district contest included Geyso, Rosemary Pinter (second), Ryan Follis (third) with Dalton Damon, Gwen Kosirog, and Katherine Schopp receiving honorable mention. Participants also received a certificate.

Egner 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.

“This contest is an important program to VFW,” said Egner, who 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.

“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,” said Nie.

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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