VFW post recognizes 9 THS students in annual essay contest
Nine Tahoma High School students placed in a recent essay competition hosted by the Maple Valley-Black Diamond Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5052.
“This year, there were so many good ones that the committee had trouble deciding,” Post Commander Bill Stephens said. “It was quite an extraordinary feat!”
The theme for this year’s Voice of Democracy essay contest was “Why our nation’s veterans are important to our history and our future.” The post received 31 entries from THS teacher Allison Agnew’s “Public Speaking Without Fear” and “Literature that Inspires” classes; and 60 entries overall this year.
“The topic is one that strikes a chord with our students as many of them have family members who served or continue to serve, and our students who went to the TJH (Tahoma Junior High) remember going to Tahoma National Cemetery to place flags and clean headstones.” Agnew said. “I was fully engaged in listening to all 31 fantastic speeches. I subjected friends to hearing my student words and with some, we got all teary-eyed. They are deep thinkers and offer hope for the future and reaffirm all that is positive with humanity.”
Four of the THS students will move on to the pool of essays competing at the district level, which will be determined in the next several weeks, Stephens said. From there, one student will move on to state.
The THS winners are: Emily Mickelson, first place and a cash award of $300; Selena Clem, second, $250; Trevor Grinzel, third, $200; McKenna Cerbana, fourth, $150; and, in a five-way tie for fifth place and receiving $50 each: Emily Mozzone, Ashtyn Perlatti, Sara Colley, Damien Maricich and Katelyn Sherick.
Mickelson’s first-place piece titled, “A Veterans Carol,” is a fictional account of what might happen if students weren’t taught about the importance of veterans to our nation’s past and future. In her essay, a “Ghost of Veterans Past” and “Ghost of Veterans Future” help a high school teacher see why it is vital to teach students about the roles military servicemen and women play in our country.
The Voice of Democracy program, founded by the VFW in 1947, encourages high school students to think, write and speak about democratic ideas and principles. Almost 40,000 students enter the competition each year, hoping to win some of the $2.2 million in scholarships awarded through the program.
In McKenna Cerbana’s third-place essay, she wrote: “There are two types of people in this world: those who flee from danger, and those who charge into it, headstrong and valiant. The latter are men and women who serve as our country’s protectors, the capeless heroes who ask nothing in return for their sense of duty. … One day a year is not enough to express the amount of gratitude that these brave men and women deserve.”