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Grand Forks Central student earns national honors in essay competition

Grand Forks Central High School senior Rosie McDonald recently participated in the annual Voice of Democracy audio-essay contest, held by the veteran rights organization, Veterans of Foreign Wars. McDonald placed sixth out of 40,000 entrants.

Grand Forks Central High School senior Rosie McDonald’s optimism recently won her national recognition.

McDonald’s audio essay for the annual Voice of Democracy contest, held by Veterans of Foreign Wars, recently received sixth place nationally out of 40,000 high school applicants. The challenge this year was to write and record a brief patriotic essay explaining why students are optimistic about the nation’s future.

McDonald was the first Grand Forks applicant to rank within the top 10 in at least 25 years, said John Hanson, commander of the VFW Post 1874. An event in her honor will be held today at the Grand Forks County office building.

Hanson said he’s proud of her accomplishments.

“Her work is outstanding,” he said. “She’s an honor student and involved in just about everything there is in school.”

Natural optimist

McDonald, who described herself as naturally optimistic, said the essay was easy for her to write. She focused on optimism as an idea and as a choice, she said.  

In her essay, she wrote that Martin Luther King Jr., Anne Frank and other historical figures awakened the nation to its self-imposed limits. Her generation will be taking over soon, which is a scary “considering many of us can’t go 20 minutes without checking our Twitter to see if anyone favorited our tweet,” but she has hope, she wrote.

Her generation might be “the laziest, most overly confident and technologically dependent generation in all of human history,” but they’re also the most “socially accepting, diverse and adaptable group of individuals ever,” she wrote.

“Our diversity and acceptance of others will take us so far in the future,” she wrote. “We will be more willing to listen to those that think differently than us, and to put aside our own opinions for the sake of others.”

McDonald, who was sponsored by the VFW Post 1874 and Ladies Auxiliary in Grand Forks, traveled to the nation’s capital in March along with other state winners to be recognized. She also received scholarship funds and a free trip in June to a leadership conference in Pennsylvania.

The VFW organization annually provides volunteer efforts for communities, including providing more than $3 million in college scholarships and savings bonds to students every year, according to the organization’s website.

More on the web: Click here to read McDonald’s essay.

Jennifer Johnson

Jennifer Johnson is the K-12 education reporter for The Grand Forks Herald.  Contact her if you have any story ideas or tips and visit 

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