The Scituation

Scituate High School's student newspaper

The Scituation

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Why should you enter the VFW speech contest?

Past Participants Share Their Perspective

This year’s Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Voice of Democracy speech contest is underway at SHS. Interested students are encouraged to write 3-5 minute persuasive speeches answering the question, “What are the greatest attributes of our Democracy?” All speeches must be submitted by Monday, October 16th. To learn more, join the contest’s Google Classroom using the code najespf.  When asked to share their perspective on this annual event, several past participants responded:

From Anna Kelly (Georgetown University Class of 2027)

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) speech competition taught me about what it means to be an American citizen and also what it means to serve—even though I’ll never truly understand. My role in the speech competition was to help oversee the competition at large at Scituate High School, and via this role, I was able to help students improve their public speaking and gain a larger understanding of America. Students spoke about what it means to serve, to be an American, and all the privileges we’re able to take advantage of today because of veterans.

It’s an amazing opportunity to reflect on our country and to improve speaking skills. Students are able to have their speeches edited by experienced students and teachers, present in front of an audience, and gain the opportunity to win real money. I can say from personal experience that it did just that for many participants—plus, it’s a great boost to the resume.

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At SHS, there really aren’t a ton of extracurricular speaking activities, even though learning how to speak is an extremely valuable skill. At college, many of my classes have grades based mostly on participation and in-class speaking, where it’s not just about what you say, but how you say it. Even if doing work outside of class feels tiresome, I found that building up a solid public speaking foundation paid off a lot in the long run. I really encourage anyone who’s even a little interested to try it out because, who knows—maybe you’ll win some money!

Patricia Gibbons (SHS Class of 2025)

During my freshman year–2021-2022–I wrote for the Veterans of Foreign Wars “Voice of Democracy” competition for high schoolers, and I received the local distinction. I saw this as a wonderful experience: it expanded my knowledge of civic action in the United States. Likewise, it kept me involved–I started to consider the significance of my vote (when I turn eighteen) in the coming years. Reading about younger activists like Malala and Greta Thunberg helped broaden my understanding of our country and encouraged me to become more active in my community. Scituate High School offering a speech contest is a tremendous opportunity for teenagers to become better informed about civics during the remainder of their high school years. 

Victor Bowker (Harvard Class of 2027)

The Voice of Democracy Speech Contest is important to me because it allows students the opportunity to explore a subject that is vital to our community but often ignored. The veteran takes many forms, such as a peer in our class, a player on our team, or a leader in our community. The experiences of veterans are often ignored, but their struggle is real. This competition allows students to tell their stories and reminds us that each day we are protected by countless strong Americans who stand up for their call to duty. 

I personally wrote about the struggle of reintegration for veterans who suffer from PTSD, lack of formal education, or a non-supportive family. I spent many hours on this speech and was proud to share support for those who support us. I encourage you to take part, learn about our nation, and maybe even win some money!

Taylor MacFaden (SHS Class of 2024)

Winning the 2022 VFW Speech competition was the highlight of my junior year and a high school moment I’ll never forget. I enjoyed every step of the way–from writing my speech to practicing it in Mrs. Hall’s room. It was an exciting experience to hear feedback on my presenting skills from six judges. Performing my speech on the stage with a podium, spotlight, and audience allowed me to grow my passion for public speaking. My favorite part was seeing my family and friends cheering me on in the front row as I held up my great-grandfather’s Purple Heart. It was so special to honor his sacrifices before Veteran’s Day. If you are considering joining this competition, go for it. Even if writing a speech and presenting is not your thing, do it. This is such an inspirational opportunity you don’t want to miss out on. Win or lose, joining this competition led me in the direction of what I would like to pursue as a career, and I discovered another side of myself.