Since 1947, the Voice of Democracy has been the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ (VFW) premier scholarship program. Each year, more than 51,000 high school students compete for more than $2.2 million in scholarships and incentives. Students compete by writing and recording a broadcast script on an annual patriotic theme. This year’s theme was “Is our Constitution still relevant?” and several Cranston students were recognized.
On Thursday, Jan. 24, Cristina Marsocci of Scituate was awarded the post award at St. Mary Academy Bay View by Post Commander Bill Groves. Fellow Voice of Democracy winners include Jean Paul Valencia of Central Falls and Tyler Heald of Cranston.
“We were so pleased to have a winner from Post 9742 and visit Bay View to present Cristina with the award,” Groves said. “We were informed that her audio essay had also won at the District 2 level and on Saturday, Jan. 26, we gathered at the Kelley Gazzero VFW Post 2812 for the awards dinner, in order to announce the statewide winners in both the Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen contests.”
Post 9742 also sent Theodore Small, a Barrington Middle School student, to the state finals. Small finished 1st Runner-up in the state with his essay to the prompt: “What would I tell America’s founding fathers?” The other Patriot’s Pen winners were Anne Flynn Rogers of Pawtucket and Samantha Bowman of Cranston.
At the dinner and celebration, each of the six finalists in both the Patriot’s Pen (middle school division) and Voice of Democracy (high school division) read their essays to a crowd of Ladies Auxiliary members and veterans from World War II to present day.
Marsocci, a junior at St. Mary Academy-Bay View, won the contest with her essay “4,400 words that changed the world.” She collected a $500 promissory note toward her college tuition, citations and won an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., in March to represent Rhode Island at the National Voice of Democracy competition.
“I am so grateful to the VFW for holding this competition. I am also extremely humbled to be among so many people that gave and give so much to keep our nation free. I encourage all Rhode Island students to get involved in this valuable competition,” she said.
The national first-place winner receives a $30,000 scholarship paid directly to the recipient’s American university, college or vocational/technical school. Other national scholarships range from $1,000 to $16,000.
Marsocci was motivated by the 2012 presidential election and her essay primarily focused on the Electoral College.
“I live in a very political household and my family encourages discussion and debate on current events, which made it easy to focus on this election,” she said. “My teachers at Bay View also help motivate me, as all students are pushed to have opinions about our nation’s current events and to discuss them with clarity.”