DAR 2023 Patriotic Essay Contest Winners

DAR Gila Valley Chapter announces scholarship winners of the 2023 DAR Patriotic Essay Contest. (L_R) Brooklynn Dorr, Kendyl Barney, Blake Kartchner and Wallace Haller, all from Thatcher High School.

This fall, the local Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Gila Valley Chapter offered scholarships, at four different values ($600, $500, $400 and $300) to local high school students dual enrolled at Eastern Arizona College. These students needed to be currently taking general education classes without financial assistance from the GIFT program or the school district.

In order to apply for the scholarships, each student had to submit a patriotic essay based on the required topic: The U.S. Constitution guarantees citizens’ rights. Choose two of these rights and explain why they are important to you. This topic was written by DAR chapter members, Susan Syfert and Jean Reynolds. The reason for choosing an essay is to give the students an opportunity to express their own thoughts, regardless of how others feel.

Of the seven essays submitted at the end of August, the judges chose the top winners. All four students from Thatcher High School are Brooklynn Dorr, Kendyl Barney, Blake Kartchner and Wallace Haller. 

During the DAR Constitution Week program in September, Kendyl Barney read portions of her essay. Due to previous commitments, the other students were not able to attend. All four essayists will be guests on KATO’s radio talk show, Voice of the Valley with host David Bell, on October 27, from 8:30 – 9:00 AM. 

It is interesting to note that the freedom of religion was a right chosen by all four students. Below are highlights from the four essays regarding one of the two rights chosen.


SCHOOL: Thatcher High School Junior 
PARENTS: Julee and Danny Dorr of Central 


Brooklyn begins her essay by stating, “The Constitution holds some of the most precious and vital rights in the world. One of these critical defining rights is that of suffrage, assuring citizens of representation through voting.” 

For the right to vote, she wrote, “Voting is the fundamental language of a successful democracy.  Through voting, citizens can have a say in the actual makeup of the nation’s political leadership and even the very structure of the government itself.  It is a paramount way for all people, in all walks of life, regardless of economic status, to be given equal representation. Perhaps the founding fathers valued this so much because they didn’t benefit from this same right; they sacrificed so much so that we do not have to experience tyranny the way that they felt they did.  The constitution underscores this indispensable right and points at the universal truth that the people should have power in their government.”

“As I am a senior in high school and am nearing the time in which I will be able to vote myself, this right has become more real and personal to me.  I have recently reflected upon the impact that this right makes for me in my own life and how critical it is for our nation to continue on in great strength.”

Brooklyn concludes her essay by stating, “On the whole, the Constitution contains numerous vital rights that are so pivotal to its continuation and strength. I value these rights deeply, and it is my conviction that my life and the United States as a whole, would not stand the same without them.”


SCHOOL: Thatcher High School Junior
PARENTS:  Kristin and James Barney


Kendyl begins her essay with, “America is a country built on freedom. These freedoms have given Americans the ability to be who they are and feel safe while doing so.” 

“I choose the right to protect myself against any sort of persecution and dangers that comes my way, which is very important to me. The right to bear arms gives me comfort and peace that not only my country protects me, but I can protect and defend myself in the presence of danger.  I believe that the right to defend one’s self with arms is one of the best ways to stay safe as long as it is not being used for any sort of terrorist actions.  Now this does not stop bad and dangerous things from occurring, but it provides that extra wall of protection from those bad and dangerous acts.”

“Without this right, higher authorities could take control over the many minorities, and I believe it could cause a collapse in the structure of all of our rights.  Authorities of all kinds know defense is a great tool when used properly. With the ability to bear arms, I believe that, not only am I safe, but the freedoms and rights of our country are safe as well. Being able to defend myself and my beliefs, religious and not, physically and verbally, makes my everyday life so much more peaceful and free.” 

She concludes her essay by writing, “These rights and freedoms of our Constitution make me proud to be an American.  I will continue to defend my beliefs and passions, including my country, with all my heart.”


SCHOOL: Thatcher High School Senior
PARENTS:  Britni and Derek Kartchner


Blake begins by stating that “We often take our rights for granted in the United State of America. We are blessed to live in a country founded by wise men who sought to protect the right they hold most dear in their hearts. Written in 1787, the Constitution of the United States lives on.”

“Our founding fathers observed that governments have become tyrannical throughout history by first taking away the freedom of speech.  Consequently, they plainly wrote that the government should not tamper with the freedom of speech.  I am grateful that I can make my voice heard in political turmoil and unrest. It is becoming increasingly important that everyone makes their voice heard.”  

“For democracy to work, everyone must raise their voice and proclaim their political views.  Freedom of speech only becomes meaningful to use as we use our voice.  I have noticed that I have become more committed as I have expressed my feelings.  Consequently, I am more inclined to act.  Our country has only progressed when people have raised their voices lobbying for change.  Despite the changes that have occurred, we are still far away from perfection.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to raise my voice to better our country for future generations, including my future children and grandchildren.”

He concludes his essay by writing, “Our rights only become meaningful when we take the time to develop an appreciation for them by using our rights. I call on each citizen of the United States to decide what rights matter most to you.  Then, like the founding fathers, use those rights to help our great nation progress to what the founding fathers envisioned it becoming.”


SCHOOL: Thatcher High School Senior
PARENTS:  Annie and Eric Haller


Wallace begins with, “Individuals across the nation have analyzed and studied the Constitution, accumulating controversial ideas on different issues that correlate with the rights stated in this crucial document. Amidst these contradictions, an essential cornerstone must remain in tact to contain the already fragile democracy and uphold the value of this manuscript in the United States.” 

“Religion has been a fundamental and necessary aspect of people’s lives for countless generations. The way the world, as it is now, functions and flows, is molded and shaped around the history that stems from the beliefs of ancient civilizations and empires.”

“By granting individuals the freedom to practice their religion without constraints, citizens of the United States are able to strengthen their own individual identities as well as grow their community by allowing a way for people of the same belief to gather and build relationships with each other.  The ability citizens of the United States have to express their religion, whether or not they choose to practice one, not only upholds their basic principles of individual freedom but also contributes to a more tolerant, diverse, and unified society.”

Wallace concludes his essay by stating, “The Constitution of the United States demonstrates the idea of individual liberty and democracy. Even now, over two hundred years later, this document continues to shape our nation. In the midst of debates surrounding ideas that stem from this document, the principles of freedom serve as the foundation that holds the United States together. Protecting the personal growth and prosperity that comes from upholding our freedoms is vital to illuminate a path to a united and stronger nation.”