Darlene McCauley, Bob Nehilla, Shane Charlton and Steve Reynolds

In Sept. 2019, Steve Reynolds, from the Mesquite Veteran of Foreign Wars chapter visited Greg Johnston’s Social Studies classes at Beaver Dam High School.  He had a challenge for the BDHS students.  Every year, the VFW sponsors a nationwide speech contest, called Voice of Democracy.  Reynolds explained the rules and the topic, “What Makes America Great”, and all three classes set out to write a speech that would work within the rules of the contest.  Johnston worked through a series of scaffolded exercises that had students focus on what their personal answer to the question would be, and how to write in such a way that would persuasive for listeners.  Many Beaver Dam students, as children of immigrants or immigrants themselves, have a unique perspective on what makes America great.  As they discussed ideas together and worked on structuring clear speeches, BDHS submitted over 60 entries in this contest.

Entries were due on October 31st, and then the great people at the VFW, who also have strong views on America’s greatness, got to work.  The students moved on with their course work over the past two months as the VFW committee listened to and read all the speeches.  They narrowed down their selections, then re-read and re-listened as they narrowed down speeches submitted from all the Virgin Valley area schools.

On Wednesday morning, Shane Charlton, BDHS senior was called out of class to receive the First Place Award, placard, and check for $250.00, for his response to What Makes America Great.  He was surprised and overwhelmed as he accepted the prize from VFW officials, Bob Nehilla and Steve Reynolds.   Steve also informed BDHSD Principal/Superintendent Darlene McCauley, that two other BDHS students finished in the top 5 of this contest.  Their names will be posted on the Beaver Dam High School Facebook page when made available.  Shane’s speech will also be posted to the same Facebook page soon.

BDHS wants to thank the Mesquite Chapter of the VFW for providing a great teaching and learning opportunity at this time when so many have lost their perspective on what opportunities this country has provided.