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WHS Sophomore is VFW State Winner

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William Siano (left) and Daniel Carr (right) present awards to Cioffi, Tallardy, and Berardo

William Siano (left) and Daniel Carr (right) present awards to Cioffi, Tallardy, and Berardo

Sandra Berardo

Sandra Berardo

William Siano (left) and Daniel Carr (right) present awards to Cioffi, Tallardy, and Berardo

Cassie Mitchell, Editor-in-Chief

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Sophomore Marissa Berardo is looking forward to an all-expenses paid trip to Washington D.C. after being named the Rhode Island State Winner of the VFW Voice of Democracy speech contest. She received the news on January 27 at a VFW awards dinner in Cranston.

The top winner from each of the three R.I. VFW districts was invited to the Cranston dinner. There, the three contestants delivered their speeches in front of a crowd of approximately 100 people, comprised of family members, VFW Post members and officers, and various Federal and State veteran officials. “American History: Our Hope for the Future” was the theme.

Berardo said she was shocked to hear her name called out as the State of Rhode Island winner.  “After they announced the second and third place winners, I could feel myself shaking and my heart pounding, but it was really great,” she said.

“Our local VFW post (Amancio-Falcone-Gaccione Post 8955 in Westerly) has been so warm and welcoming to me, “ said Berardo.  “I’m really grateful to Mr. Daniel J. Carr, who’s been Chairman of our Post’s Voice of Democracy program since 2005, for all his encouragement.  (Carr’s stepdaughter, Daria Mironova, was also a Rhode Island State winner back in 2003.) “He and Mr. Robert Montalbano sat with my family at the VFW dinner. The Post Commander, Mr. William Siano, and his wife, have also been really friendly to me,” she said.

According to Berardo, it’s been an honor to meet Westerly’s veterans at Post 8955.  “They’re patriots, “ she said.  “They really love our country and appreciate freedom of speech, and you can feel their sincerity when you speak with them. It’s so refreshing.”

Berardo was given a $500 scholarship, a District cash award, and an all-expenses paid trip to Washington D.C. from March 3-7, where she’ll compete for awards at the national level.  The minimum prize is $1,000 and the maximum is a $30,000 scholarship.  The trip is packed full of social events for the 50 state winners, including side trips to museums.  There is even a remote chance of meeting the President.

VFW Post 8955 also honored the top three local Post winners on February 7th.  All three winners are WHS sophomores in one of Mr. Stephen Servidio’s AP U.S. History class. Third place winner Kyle Cioffi, second place winner Aaron Tallardy, and Berardo read their speeches at this Post meeting. The three students were presented with framed certificates, cash awards, and other honors, and had a chance to mingle afterwards and enjoy refreshments.  Mr. Servidio and Ms. Dora Vasquez-Hellner (a Post member and WHS Spanish teacher) also attended to cheer the students on.

“I’m really happy that Mr. Servidio encouraged our history class to participate in this competition,” said Berardo.

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1 Comment

One Response to “WHS Sophomore is VFW State Winner”

  1. Daniel Carr on February 10th, 2018 7:23 pm

    I am delighted to meet our winners and their families.I salute you all.
    I particularly salute Mr. Steve Sirvideo for supporting all Veterans and inviting the Vietnam Veterans History Panel to speak with the US History students about the VN War.
    I know that WHS is a GR8 place and so are the students,teachers and staff.
    Marissa wrote an essay that reflected this delicate moment in US History.
    She went above and beyond to put her work together.
    I know she is treasuring all these wonderful moments.
    My advice to all WHS students is study up and help guide our USA into an even better future.
    Be true shining lights .

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