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Local High School Senior Scores Top National Award

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Washington, DC — A senior at Bret Harte High School has been named the first-place national winner of a $30,000 scholarship award.

Savannah Wittman last night received from the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the US and Auxiliary its Voice of Democracy $30,000 TC Selman Memorial Scholarship — the top honor — during an over-sized ceremonial check presentation at the VFW’s 2017 Legislative Conference in Washington, DC.

Her participation was sponsored by VFW Post 12118 and its Auxiliary in Copperopolis. Also participating in last night’s ceremony were 50-plus other national finalists who altogether shared awards totaling $154,000.

Wittman, who called Clarke Broadcasting from DC, where she and the other finalists were being hosted on an extensive tour of the Capitol, National Mall, war memorials, museums and other attractions, called the experience a wonderful one. She adds that she did not know she would be the top winner almost right up to the final announcement. To view some pictures that she shared from her tour, click the slideshow link in the upper left image box.

According to VFW officials, the Voice of Democracy program, now in its 70th year, requires entrants to write and record a three to five-minute speech on a patriotic theme. This year’s was “My Responsibility to America.” Wittman’s entry, inspired by the service of her recently departed grandfather Raymond “Bud” Wittman as well as her brother Nicholas’ recent enlistment in the US Air Force, was among 38,000 submitted by students worldwide. She is the daughter of local veterinarian Jeff Wittman and wife Debbie.

According to VFW National Commander Brian Duffy, the annual competition continues to provide high school students opportunities to be recognized as they speak out on freedom and democracy. He states, “Hearing Savannah’s essay reassures me that the leaders of tomorrow will be intelligent, patriotic and passionate Americans.” To view her speech, click here.