Parkland Press

Friday, March 22, 2019
PRESS PHOTO COURTESY ANN WERTMANCalliope Volikas, teacher: Sgt. Keenan Albright, Pa. National Guard; Areea Rahman, first-place winner; Rear Adm. retired David P. Keller, USN, of Post 12099; Alexandra Kundek, second-place winner; Sgt. Alexandra Avila, Pa. National Guard; Andrew Weiss, third-place winner; Ann Wertman representing the late Joseph Zeller, VOD chairman; and Dale Ritter, teacher and PRESS PHOTO COURTESY ANN WERTMANCalliope Volikas, teacher: Sgt. Keenan Albright, Pa. National Guard; Areea Rahman, first-place winner; Rear Adm. retired David P. Keller, USN, of Post 12099; Alexandra Kundek, second-place winner; Sgt. Alexandra Avila, Pa. National Guard; Andrew Weiss, third-place winner; Ann Wertman representing the late Joseph Zeller, VOD chairman; and Dale Ritter, teacher and

VFW Post 12099 announces Voice of Democracy winners

Thursday, January 10, 2019 by ANN WERTMAN Special to The Press in School

While it was just two periods away from holiday vacation, several classes under Parkland teachers Dale Ritter and Calliope Volikas found themselves absorbed in a question-and-answer period with Brig. Gen. Anna Mae V. McCabe Hays VFW Post 12099 officer Rear Admiral Retired David P. Keller, U.S.N.; and Sgts. Alexandra Avila and Keenan Albright, both combat veterans and recruiting officers of the Pennsylvania National Guard.

The students had gathered to honor their school’s 2018-19 winners in the annual VFW Voice of Democracy Contest on the theme of “Why My Vote Matters.”

Established in 1947, with nationwide awards each year totaling over $2.1 million in scholarships and incentives, the contest attracts approximately 40,000 public, private, parochial and home study students in grades nine through 12 who participate on the local, district, state and national levels in both essay and audio formats.

All the 2018-19 winners were freshman with first place garnered by Areea Rahman; second place, Alexandra Kundek; and third place, Andrew Weiss.

All were awarded certificates and monetary prizes.

As part of the award ceremony, teacher Dale Ritter noted the annual VOD Essay Chairman of Post 12099, 100-year-old WWII and Korea veteran Joe Zeller, who had addressed many of his classes in past years about his many feats in life, had passed away Dec. 12, 2018.

Keller, a graduate of Northwestern Lehigh High School, and Avila and Albright spoke about their careers and deployment in the war zones of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, respectfully.

Students and teachers enthusiastically questioned why they joined the military, how they selected their branch of service, what was their greatest fear and greatest feeling of accomplishment, the truth about basic training, what qualities one needs to possess to feel ready to make this commitment, how their military training would qualify them for employment after separation and the difference between and the importance of both the American Legion and the VFW.

Avila spoke about learning the key importance of being a fully trained and dedicated part of a team in all aspects of the military; important training for the success of military operations as well as for one’s future endeavors.