JM Freshman Places In National Essay Contest

John Marshall High School freshman Zara Zervos has placed second nationally in her division in the Elks Americanism Essay Contest.

West Virginia State Americanism Chairman Pat Duffy recently presented a plaque to Zervos on behalf of the Elks organization at her school. Zervos was attending Sherrard Middle School as an eighth grader this past school year when her entry was submitted on the local level. This year’s theme was “Why It Is Important to Vote.”

“I was really excited when I learned about it,” Zervos said. She has won first place on the local and state levels in her division as a sixth, seventh and eighth grader, but this is the first time she has placed on a national level. Besides participating in several sports including cross country, swimming, soccer and track, Zervos said she enjoys getting involved with community service.

Duffy said each year the Wheeling Elks Lodge 28 has hundreds of middle school students from Ohio and Marshall counties who participate in the contest each year. He said they have two divisions — a fifth and sixth grade division and a seventh and eighth grade division, which is judged by professional writers on a local and national level. He said they pick first, second and third-place winners which are then sent on to the state level, and then winners from the state level are submitted to the national Elks contest. Zervos competed against students from 30 other states, according to Duffy.

“I just think she has so much ability in writing,” Duffy said. He said the Elks organization is very proud of Zervos and she continues to set a great example for other students.

Duffy said he appreciates the Elks Americanism Contest and program on a local level with its outreach into the community and efforts to educate students about Americanism. He said over the past five years the local lodge has placed first four times on a national level and second place once with their Americanism program. “In our country today we cannot forget Americanism and our great American flag,” he said.

A Ballot for Voter Responsibility

Essay by Zara Zervos

One-hundred and seventeen million people chose not to participate in the 2016 presidential election. This means 43 percent of those eligible didn’t vote. Why are people choosing to ignore their responsibility as citizens? Instead of exercising their freedoms–freedoms people fought for–people choose to either be oblivious to the world around them, or people feel that they may pick the wrong person for the job and are scared away by fear tactics. But as American citizens, isn’t it our civic responsibility to use these freedoms to help out the whole country? We as Americans need to accept our citizenship roles and vote!

Today, people feel they will always be able to vote, so there is no rush in using this privilege. In a generation of voters who have not had to fight for their rights, people miss the fact that others fought to gain access to the ballot. Citizens fought Jim Crow laws, which denied voting to those of a different race. Citizens fought for women to be able to vote–to overcome sexism and allow women to have a voice in government. Citizens fought to allow voting for all and to help our nation become the representative democracy we have today. When 117 million people stop voting, we only have a representation of half of the country.

Living in America gives us the chance to be free — a chance that many other countries deny their citizens. We are free, each and every person, to express our opinions, even unpopular ones, when we vote. By utilizing this privilege, we are accepting responsibility toward our country’s future. By voting, we shape our country into what we believe it should be. Halting our busy schedules to attend polling places may seem unnecessary, but exercising our constitutional right is essential.

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