NEWS: Law’s Zuraw, Weizel Win VFW Awards
By Laura Gonzalez – News Editor
Law history teacher Mr. Zuraw and senior Josh Weizel were recently recognized by the Veterans of Foreign Wars for their dedication to politics and democracy.
Zuraw received the VFW Teacher of the Year Award for his nine years of service to Law teaching Government and Politics, Survey 20th Century America, Crime and Violence, and others. Weizel received his award for his Voice of Democracy essay.
The Teacher of the Year Award nominees were teachers who promoted civic responsibility, flag etiquette and patriotism. Zuraw fulfilled these requirements daily during class by using different activities to get students interested in American history and politics. He and history teacher Ms. Burns also organized a day for veterans to visit and speak to Law’s students about their wartime experiences.
“That’s the best part about [teaching], it’s the challenge of teaching teenagers because the last thing they want to do is sit in a class for a 181 days and learn about government,” Zuraw said. “I think that is my favorite part about it, getting them to care about something that they don’t really care about.”
Zuraw has stepped up to that challenge and has provided students with the necessary support and motivation to do well in class and on exams even with the intense schedule of Advanced Placement classes.
“I noticed throughout the year how thoroughly Mr. Zuraw reviewed content, regardless of how little time we had, and always made sure we understood it,” former AP Government and Politics student Alyssa Paladino said. “I think that’s why the class wasn’t so hard for me. Also, no matter how boring the topic we were learning was, Mr. Zuraw always found a way to make us laugh.”
Weizel fulfilled his requirements by writing a powerful essay on the importance of veterans to the nation’s history and to its future.
“The topic for this year’s Voice of Democracy contest was the importance of our veterans, and that got me thinking about just how significant a role they have played in our survival as a free and thriving nation,” Weizel said. “I have come to realize that not every individual in the world enjoys the liberties that we have in the United States and so I have a strong passion for the sacrifices of veterans who made helped preserve our freedoms.”
While both Zuraw and Weizel were pleasantly surprised to find out about their awards, Zuraw experienced a slightly greater surprise since he was unaware that he had been nominated for the award.
“With so many things going on in school the last thing on my mind is winning awards, but of course I was excited and honored,” Zuraw said. “Teachers don’t get recognized that much so it was a nice moment.”
Although Weizel received the news with less surprise, he received it with just as much enthusiasm, and excitement to be able share his passion with VFW members, the Patriot’s Pen contest winners, and the middle and high school Teacher of the Year Award recipients at the awards luncheon.
“When I found out I won the contest I had a great moment of realization where I decided I can go as far in life as I want,” Weizel said. “There was a small group of people at the ceremony, but I felt very optimistic giving my first public speech as I have always had a strong interest in history and politics and have always stood up for what I’ve believed was right. “
Zuraw said he will continue to entertain students while teaching them about government. Weizel said he plans to continue publicly advocating for different issues he believes in and will soon be joining the Students for Liberty organization.