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Students chosen as winners for VFW essay contest

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“And the winner is….” these were the intense moments right before Alexis Gutierrez (1st place), Thomas Kilcullen (2nd place), and Connor Sinclair (3rd place) were announced as the VFW winners for Grayslake North High School.
“The prompt of this year’s Voice of Democracy competition was ‘Why Veterans are Important to Our Nation’s History and Future’,” said junior Alexis Gutierrez.
Writing takes time and effort to be successful.
“I wrote at night. That night, I wrote and wrote. It kept flowing. However, editing took a while,” Sinclair said.
These three writers learned how important the veterans are to the community and how much it meant to all of the veterans as well.
“The lesson I took away from this is that veterans deserve more recognition in our own community and beyond,” Gutierrez said.
The contestants all said they loved seeing the veterans’ responses to their papers and enjoyed getting to know them.
“It was a very enjoyable experience. At the competition, everyone was very nice, and the veterans were very happy and proud that we had put in the time and effort,” Kilcullen stated.
Each writer has a story behind what they wrote and why they wrote it. VFW winner, Connor Sinclair, wrote about his past family members that were involved in the armed forces.
“My grandpa was in the Navy, and I have parts of my family who were in the military. I took the values they had and put it into my paper,” Sinclair said.
However, Gutierrez’s inspiration was Joseph Whiting Dimock ll, a friend from her church.
“Joey was my main inspiration for this because I have seen the legacy he has left on my church first hand; I was also inspired by all military service members, past and present, including service members from my family,” Gutierrez said.
“I would definitely do it again because it meant a lot to the veterans. I can give up one Saturday night to make the community aware of what our veterans have done,” Sinclair said.
Kilcullen participated in the ALC contest as well.
Thomas said, “The contest itself is run by the American Legion, a group comprised mainly of veterans.”
He wrote several speeches and finally lowered it down to the one he wanted to present.
“We had to give one 8-10 minute oration on the importance of the United States constitution and the responsibilities of the citizens. Then we had to give four 3-5 minute speeches on specific amendments,” Kilcullen said.
Killcullen stresses that it was a team effort, and he could not have done this without everyone’s support.
“What really motivated me was the fact that everyone around had contributed in some way to the process. Whether it was my mom getting books from the library to help my research, or my coach meeting with me to help me on my speeches, it was all a team effort,” Kilcullen said.

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Students chosen as winners for VFW essay contest