DEMCO Electric Essay Contest Winners

Local high school students Eric Ho, Lindsay Miller, Rhianna San Soucie and Ethan Savario each won an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., this June as the 2019 winners of DEMCO’s Rural Electric Youth Tour Essay Contest. The Youth Tour Essay Contest is an annual event that this year included essay entries from students throughout DEMCO’s seven parish service area.
The four winners were selected on February 26 during an evening banquet honoring the 12 finalists, their families, teachers and school principals. The banquet was held at White Oak Plantation in Baton Rouge.
Eric Ho is a student at The Runnels School, Lindsay Miller attends Woodlawn High School, Rhianna San Soucie attends St. Joseph’s Academy and Ethan Savario attends Zachary High School.
The other eight finalists included Emily Courtney (Central High School), Amber Daigle (East Ascension High School), Bryce Felps (Maurepas High School), Shelby Goodwin (Slaughter Community Charter), Malikai D. Hebert (French Settlement High School), Ryan Ly (The Runnels School), Camilla Nicosia (St. Joseph’s Academy), and Abigail Wheat (French Settlement High School).
David Latona, Vice President, Marketing and Member Services at DEMCO, served as master of ceremonies at the banquet. He introduced DEMCO directors Jill McGraw, Leslie Falks, and board president Danny Berthelot, as well as other cooperative employees who attended the event.
Keynote speaker for the evening was Jerry Stovall, president and CEO of Sports BR. Stovall was an All-American running back at LSU and runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in 1962. He was a first-round NFL draft choice for the St. Louis Cardinals and was a 3-time Pro Bowl defensive back before retiring from the NFL in 1971. Stovall later returned to Baton Rouge to serve as an assistant football coach under Charles McClendon and was named LSU’s head coach in 1980.
Stovall’s inspirational message centered around a key period in his life when he was graduating from West Monroe High School and was the last player to be recruited at LSU that year.
“    They asked me if I wanted to go down to Baton Rouge and play football and when they said I could have three free meals a day, air-conditioning and a place to sleep in my own bed, that’s all I needed to hear,” the former football coach said.
He encouraged the Youth Tour finalists to meet obstacles head-on and not be deterred by setbacks or perceived disadvantages in their lives. “I don’t want to hear about the color of your skin or who your parents are or how poor you are or that you’re not smart enough or you don’t have certain advantages,” he said. “Have a plan and strategy for your life. Don’t limit yourself and don’t let anyone else limit you. Be the best you can be with whatever talent and resources and circumstances God gave you. Earn for yourself the right to walk with your head held high.”
Each finalist was judged on the oral presentation of his or her essay. The finalists also completed a short written test on their knowledge of DEMCO and rural electrification.
Youth Tour director Joni Kitchen of the Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives, was also on hand to meet the Youth Tour contestants.
DEMCO’s four Youth Tour winners will join 16 other Louisiana students this June to embark on their weeklong trip to Washington, D.C. During their stay in Washington, the Louisiana Youth Tour participants will visit the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, Supreme Court, National Archives, Arlington Cemetery, and many other historically significant buildings and landmarks.
They will also join about 1,500 other Youth Tour participants from 43 different states to learn more about electric cooperatives.
Louisiana participation in the Rural Electric Youth Tour in 1978 when it sent the first students from Louisiana to Washington, D.C. The purpose of the Youth Tour program is to provide outstanding youth with an insight into how their national government operates. to compete with Texas.

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