On Tuesday, December 3rd, Cadet Amelia Van Berkel, from the Oak Ridge High School NJROTC program, received a certificate and a $100 cash prize for winning first place in the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Voice of Democracy essay contest in Tennessee District Two. The VFW Tennessee District Two includes Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Knox, Loudon, Roane, Scott, Union, Sevier, Fentress, and Morgan counties. Each cadet in the program was required to write and submit an essay to the Oak Ridge High School naval science instructor, Chief Ryan Nicholls. Van Berkel’s essay was selected to be entered at the district level. Her essay has now advanced to the state level; the first place winner of the state competition will win $2,000 and an all-expense paid trip to Washington D.C. to attend the Voice of Democracy national finals. The winner of the national competition will receive a $30,000 scholarship to the University of his or her choice. When asked about her win, Van Berkel responded, “Honestly, I wrote the essay for a good grade and I didn’t really expect it to win, but I’m really glad it did. Now I’m more confident in my writing skills. Overall, NJROTC has given me a major confidence boost and I’m really glad I joined.” Oak Ridge High School and the NJROTC program hopes to see more cadet winners in the future.
Press release submitted by NJROTC Chief Ryan Nicholls