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Attending the local Voice of Democracy awards ceremony honoring Mayim Stith were: pictured from left to right, STEM Center principal Michelle Weber, Post 7564 Commander Mike Weirsma, Department winner Mayim Stith, Chairman Jamie Olson, and co-chair Betsy Olson.

Writing natural talent for VOD contest winner

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Mayim Stith, a student at the Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center is on her way to Washington, D.C. for national competition March 2 through March 6, as the state Voice of Democracy contest winner with her audio essay titled “ Is our Constitution Still Relevant?”

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Mayim won a $1,000 scholarship and an all-expenses paid trip as the result of district and state competition, and could bring home other scholarships totalling up to $30,000. The annual Voice of Democracy program is sponsored by the West Fargo VFW Post 7564 and Ladies Auxiliary with Jamie Olson serving as chairman and Betsy Olson, co-chair.

Needless to say, Mayim was excited about achieving Voice of Democracy honors touting all the encouragement received from family members. “ I am so grateful for all the support my family has given me throughout this contest and all my other endeavors,” she stated. “My dad Matt, my mom Toni, and my little brother Joram (a sixth-grader at the STEM center) are the most important things in the world to me.”

Fittingly, she was inspired to participate in the competition by her dad who competed in his local chapter while he was in high school. He also motivated Mayim to write for another VFW-promoted program -- the Patriot’s Pen essay contest last year -- taking second place in the region with her essay focusing on the question “Am I Proud of My Country,” which included personal experiences visiting the French Normandy Beaches where the D-Day landings took place in WWII.

Research for her winning topic “Is Our Constitution Still Relevant,” was gleaned from several areas with her first informational stop her STEM History teacher RaeAnne Axtman. “She is very knowledgeable about the American Constitution, and she provided a very essential base to my speech,” Mayim said proudly. “So much so, I basically feel that I owe all of my success in this contest to her and my dad.”

It also helps that writing comes easy. “I have been writing for as long as I can remember,” Mayim added. “My parents can undoubtedly attest to the fact that my drawers and desk are stuffed with notebooks full of poems, essays, stories, and memoirs. It’s hard to explain my love of writing, but I think the reason why I enjoy it so much is the amazing power of the written word. When you think, you hear yourself. When you speak, anyone within earshot hears you. But when you write, you are speaking to the whole world.”

The national Voice of Democracy judging will be based off the same essay Mayim supplied to district and state competition and will actually be occurring during Mayim’s commute to Washington, D.C.

Upon arrival, the special awards program will include a formal ceremony featuring all the state winners, before the overall champions are announced. Mayim’s mom Toni will be accompanying her and staying for part of the Voice of Democracy activity that will also include exclusive tours and sightseeing stops.

As a side note, writing is not Mayim’s only area of interest. She is also actively involved at West Fargo High School in cross country and musical theatre; has devoted five years to singing in the Lake Agassiz Girls’ Choir;and ten years as a member of the Girl Scouts USA; reads whatever she can get her hands on, plays piano, flute, and guitar, and travels whenever she can, describing the latter as “food for a writer’s soul.”

Mayim is looking forward to her imminent trip and would encourage anyone who is considering entering the Voices of Democracy or Patriot’s Pen to do so all the while believing in their chance of winning. “Victory starts with believing in possibilities and winners always believe,” she stated.

Mayim is also extremely grateful “to the wonderful people at the West Fargo VFW and those in Washington, D.C., who planned this great trip for me. I would especially like to thank Past VFW Commander Charlie Weible, who was so patient with me and always believed in my chance to win. As for community support, I just have to say that without the teaching guidance, and support of every single person at the STEM Center Middle School, I would never have entered this contest, Patriot’s Pen, or really any other contest. It was at that school, and under the guidance of those great people, that I started believing in possibility and helped me find my words.I have so much to be grateful for and so many people to thank, I’m just going say one great big thank you and hope that everybody knows who they are.”

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