A Delaware Hayes High School senior took home second place and more than $6,000 in scholarships in a audio essay contest held earlier this month.
Mallory Bibler said Thursday that last semester, one of her teachers encouraged her to write about why voting matters and later encouraged her to submit that speech for the “Voice of Democracy: Why My Vote Matters” audio essay competition, a contest run by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
“Everybody’s speeches had to do with why their vote matters,” Bibler said. “My speech is about the first time I remember voting … to choose between having an ice cream party or pizza party (in second grade).”
Bibler said she had never heard of the competition and didn’t plan on submitting until her teacher, Michelle Howes, told her to record the essay on a CD and submit it to the contest.
“I was initially not going to submit the speech,” Bibler said. “Mrs. Howes was like ‘maybe you should, you could win something,’ so I submitted it. I just kept winning, and it was really cool.”
Bibler said she won first place at the Delaware VFW post, received $150 in scholarships, and was invited to the district awards ceremony. Bibler said the organization sent her a packet about the state competition in the mail ahead of the district award ceremony, which spoiled the surprise that she had won first place at the district level with a prize of $1,500.
“It was a surprise!” Bibler said. “It was really cool.”
On Jan. 12, Bibler took second place among students from the 12 districts in Ohio, and she was given a prize of $5,000.
“It was very unexpected,” Bibler said. “I couldn’t be more happy for the opportunity that I had, because I did not even expect to make it as far as I did at all. It’s really cool.”
Bibler said after she returned to school following the state prize, she was congratulated by Principal Richard Stranges and many of her teachers.
“I don’t know if I feel different,” Bibler said. “But everybody is so nice about it.”
Bibler said after she graduates in May, she’s planning on studying at The Ohio State University, where she’s considering majoring in communications.
The speeches of all 12 district winners were recorded and will be archived in the Library of Congress, the VFW reports.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.