PHS senior wins top Pittsfield honor in VFW 'Voice of Democracy' essay contest

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PITTSFIELD >> The kids, too, grow tired of partisan gridlock in Washington, D.C.

A local one — 18-year-old Pittsfield High School senior Terrence J. Nykorchuck — just earned himself $1,150 by penning an eloquent diatribe against partisanship and entering it into the Veterans of Foreign Wars "Voice of Democracy" essay contest.

The Founding Fathers held wildly different views on how best to shape the nation they were constructing in 1787, requiring "major compromise" "in almost every area," Nykorchuck writes.

Compare that with how Democrats and Republicans run the country's affairs today, he asks readers.

"Instead of wondering, 'What can we do to better America?' our political parties wonder, 'What can we do to make the other side look bad?' " he wrote. "Our Founding Fathers would be embarrassed at this mindset."

Nykorchuck won the contest for the city of Pittsfield and placed second overall in Berkshire County. The county winner won't be announced until later in the month.

On Wednesday, Pittsfield Mayor Linda M. Tyer joined members of the VFW, family and friends to present award to Nykorchuck and the Taconic High School and St. Joseph Central High School contest winners, Tyler F. Pudlo and Colleen M. Baker.

Tyer also presented Thomas Dawley Sr. with the new VFW Post 448 Volunteer of the Year Award for his participation in numerous veteran activities, including fundraising, committee involvement and memorial events.

In his essay, Nykorchuck wrote, "Our two major parties consider each other enemies and refuse to give any ground. I have a vision for our politicians to remember the country was built on the cooperation of people of completely differing ideologies. [Modern politicians] need to start doing what's best for America, not their political parties."

With cooperation, comes hope, Nykorchuck argues.

"If we act together, there is no obstacle we cannot overcome," he writes. "We can solve our debt crisis, we can solve income inequality, we can solve rising education costs, and most importantly, we can reclaim the greatness of America."

Tyer agreed with Nykorchuck's premise.

The political parties ought to "become united and more concerned about American citizens, what our needs are and what our expectations are for our political leadership."

She addressed the contest winners, saying, "You are embarking upon a very important milestone in your lives. There are so many opportunities for you to continue what you started here by being engaged in civic life, volunteering and supporting politics."

RoseAnn Sturgeon, who won the contest in 1965 and helped judge entries this year, said, "In a country where we're dealing with a lot of problems, the essays were wonderfully hopeful and full of very plausible solutions."

In an interview, Nykorchuck sent a populist message.

"People lose faith in politics," he said. "I think it's very important for people to realize that if you demand our politicians to work for us, you don't tolerate them not doing so, things change."

Contact Phil Demers at 413-496-6214.


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