Jackson Pierce has been named the 2012-2013 first place Voice of Democracy Winner for the VFW Department of Europe. He has been invited to the National Voice of Democracy finals in Washington, DC, March 2-6, 2013.
Jackson is the son of 1991 Elmhurst High School graduate, Melissa Quake S’Chevalier, and the grandson of former Waynedale residents, Hermann and Sally Quake. His father is Major (Ret.) Michael D. Pierce.
Jackson is a junior at Hohenfels American High School (one of the 79 American high schools in Europe) which is on Hohenfels Army Post, situated in Bavaria, Germany. As an honor student he was a team member for the DoDDS Europe academic games, a scholastic competition for high school students. An avid runner, Jack has been captain of his cross country team for two years, and was awarded the Army Physical Fitness Award.
Jack is the Command Sergeant Major of his Junior ROTC Battalion. The Battalion Command Sergeant Major (CSM) is responsible for assisting subordinate Non-commissioned Officers (NCOs), the Battalion XO, and the adjutant with administrative details, assisting the Battalion Commander in all matters regarding enlisted members of the cadet battalion, and supervising all color guard and flag details. Additional responsibilities include ensuring all enlisted cadets are properly trained. In the event of an absent officer, the CSM assumes command of the battalion. He also has been the commander of the Battalion drill team for two of his three years on the team. As a member of the rifle team he is “high shooter” for the past two years.
DoDEA Europe (Department of Defense Dependents Schools – DoDDS) headquartered in Wiesbaden, Germany, operates 79 schools in Europe. The Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS) are a network of schools, both primary and secondary, that serve dependents of United States military – and other non-US – personnel outside the United States. The schools themselves are operated by the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA). This school system, wholly located outside the country, is the tenth largest American school system. Although the schools are primarily for dependents of military personnel, U.S. government employees are allowed to enroll their children in the schools on a space-available basis. As all of these schools are situated overseas, a concerted effort is made to immerse the children in the local color. Language and culture courses are offered as early as elementary school, while advanced language courses and opportunities to intimately view the culture of the student’s host nation are offered throughout high school.
Last December Jack earned his blue belt in Taekwondo which he has been studying for several years. The blue belt represents “the sky or heaven, like a tall plant or tree growing up towards the blue sky.” A blue belt student develops more power in techniques including clean and well-defined strikes and kicks. They are also asked to spar tougher opponents or multiple attackers. Increased flexibility allows kicks to reach decent heights to start developing systems of self defense that work for the individual. Taekwondo tenants serve to develop the entire individual. The tenants are courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self control, and indomitable spirit.
Jack recently received the following letter:
“Congratulations on winning your Department Voice of Democracy competition!
The officers and members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and its Ladies Auxiliary join with your parents, classmates, teachers and friends in expressing great pride in your accomplishment. To be named one of the top fifty-four winners from a field of around 50,000 total participants from across the country and overseas is an outstanding achievement. You will represent your Department and be our guest in Washington, D.C. Your audio essay will be judged along with the audio essays of the other national finalists right before you arrive. ”
Since 1947, the Voice of Democracy has been the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ (VFW’s) premier scholarship program. Each year, more than 50,000 high school students compete for more than $2.3 million in scholarships and incentives. Students compete by writing and recording a broadcast script on an annual patriotic theme. This year’s theme is, Is Our Constitution Still Relevant?
Prizes and scholarships are awarded at the local, district, state and national level. Department (State) winners receive an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., March 2-6, 2013, to tour the city, meet our nation’s leaders, be honored by the VFW and it’s Ladies Auxiliary and receive their portion of $152,000 in national awards, the top scholarship being $30,000.