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Lancaster High School Junior Wins Local Veterans of Foreign Wars Writing Competition

This year’s topic was “Is Our Constitution Still Relevant?” The VFW Post representatives presented Mordahl with a prize of $100 at Lancaster High School earlier this month.

Mordahl found out about the essay contest through his Professional Communications class at LHS taught by Steve Hampton.

“Austin is the ideal student, he is a hard worker, responsible and caring to everyone around him,” Hampton said. “He is always willing to help others and is always open to new challenges.”

Mordahl’s family is from Yemen, a country in Southwest Asia. His parents own a rental business leasing residences to people and families. Their background and American story is what fueled his perspective in writing about the U.S. Constitution.

“[My parent’s] trade is what has supported my family from the day I was born to this very moment. However, my family did not always own this business. In fact, home, to my parents, is a place of totalitarian government leadership where it would be nearly impossible to start such a business,” Mordahl said. “The difference between the United States of America and Yemen—the difference that allowed my father to emigrate from his home country to this one and start a prosperous business—is the Constitution that provides the framework for our nation.”

In his essay, he writes:
To truly understand the relevance of the Constitution, one must simply travel to another country where the people do not enjoy the same luxuries as we do. Go back to my home country of Yemen, where the freedom of speech is still but a wisp of hope in the minds of the oppressed. I have family who were hunted and were forced to flee their loved ones to escape government capture for merely being critical of the president, a right that we Americans are all too willing to take advantage of. Election of government officials is something that people only hear about, whereas the president of Yemen still chooses every other high position in the government—a dictatorship masquerading as democracy. These are but a few oppressed human rights—rights that we are fortunate to enjoy in this nation.

One winner from each Post advances to the district competition and then one from each district will advance to state competition. State winners are invited to Washington D. C. where their essays compete in the final competition.

Hampton feels confident about his student’s chances of advancing.

“I think he has a good chance at the next level which is district,” he said. “The post commander also feels the same way. The state and national contest are also in his reach and I wish him well.”

Prizes and scholarships are awarded at the local post, district, state and national level. State winners receive an all-expense paid trip to Washington D.C. March 2-6 2013 to tour the city, meet the nation’s leaders, be honored by the VFW and its Ladies Auxiliary and receive their portion of $152,000 in national awards, the top scholarship being $30,000.

Mordahl will be recognized by the district at the Lancaster ISD November Board Meeting at 6:30 p.m.

The Lancaster Public Schools serve more than 6,000 pre-kindergarten through grade 12 students in 11 schools. The mission of the Lancaster Independent School District, a leader in providing innovative, quality programs, is to educate every student with the knowledge; skills; and principles to succeed and contribute in a competitive and technologically advancing world by providing rigorous and engaging learning opportunities that promote diversity; create an environment of integrity and respect; and establish a commitment to continued improvement in partnership with families and community.

422 S. Centre Ave. Lancaster, TX 75146 ~ 972.218.1400 ~ www.LancasterISD.org

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