Farragut cadet Kyndal Olander was deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains on a drive with her mom and dad to visit relatives over the holiday break when her cell phone suddenly rang. It was odd considering the service was scant, at best.
Nevertheless, as luck — or fate — would have it, technology fully cooperated allowing Kyndal and her parents to put the phone on speaker and hear the announcement that she had claimed first place in the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Voices of Democracy Competition, winning the District 9 VFW competition as well as the subsequent regional contest.
“I’ve never entered any contest, let alone won it,” said Kyndal, who has been attending Farragut as a seven-day boarder since her freshman year. “At first when the phone rang, we all didn’t know what to think. We were on the way to West Virginia and my mom first said to ignore it but then I told her, ‘No, let’s answer it.’ That’s when the representative from VFW told us I had won.”
Celebrating its 69th year, the Voice of Democracy program helps encourage the youth of America to have a better understanding and appreciation for the United States by requiring entrants to write and record a three- to five-minute script on a patriotic theme. Kyndal’s entry was named “My Vision of America’s Future,” which contained several key themes, including the importance of ensuring the health, safety, and longevity of America’s veterans.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Kyndal, who will attend the VFW Department of Florida Celebration of Achievement Awards Banquet on January 20th in Orlando where a panel of judges will select the the state winner. “It will be pretty incredible if I move on to the national competition.”
If chosen as the state representative, Kyndal, who is a drill company commander and has been a member of the sailing, softball and volleyball teams, will advance with other state winners to a final round in Washington, D.C., to participate in the VFW National Legislative Conference which will be held from February 28 – March 3 when a national champion will be crowned. State and national winners are eligible for scholarships ranging in value from between $5,000-$30,000.
“She’s a remarkable student and cadet,” Upper School history teacher Mark Panuthos said of Kyndal, who takes Mr. Panuthos’ Advanced Placement history class. “She takes mostly honors or advanced placement classes and participates in nearly everything. She is a great representative for Farragut.”