April Bayer, left, a junior at West Point-Beemer High School, is this year’s Nebraska VFW Voice of Democracy contest state runner-up. Bayer’s essay won the district contest, which earned her the right to compete at state. This year’s topic was “Why I’m Optimistic About Our Nation’s Future.” Bayer’s second place showing earned her a $1,500 scholarship. Bayer is shown receiving her award from sponsors of the award, Jeanne and Dick Morrison. April is the daughter of Mike and Roxanne Bayer.