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NL Student Enters Voice of Democracy Contest | Belron

Matt's Story on WGAL

Every year Northern Lebanon adds new students to their roster. This year Matthew Cintron is one such student. He is currently a freshman. Matt has faced many struggles throughout his life. He was born with Cerebral Palsy and due to this, many everyday tasks that most of us take for granted are not easy for Matt. Despite certain physical and academic challenges, Matt strives to succeed in school.
In the course of the past three months, Matthew has completed a task that no other Northern Lebanon student has done this year. In the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year the Voice of Democracy contest information was posted in the guidance office. Out of approximately 800 students, Matt was the only student to show any interest in the contest. The theme of the contest this year was “Is There Pride in Serving in Our Military?” Along with writing an essay, participants were required to record their essay onto a CD or tape. The recording was not allowed to be shorter than 3 minutes and could be no longer than five.
The essay caught Matt’s eye one day as he was passing through the guidance office. When he first learned about the contest, the deadline was only days away. But that didn’t stop Matt. Even though the deadline was rapidly approaching, he decided he wanted to participate and cranked out the essay in a mere five days. In order to write his essay he conducted interviews with several people; some were formerly in the military, and several are civilians on staff at our school. Due to some physical limitations associated with Cerebral Palsy, Matt was not able to record his speech in less than five minutes. That didn’t stop Matt. Regardless of his limitations, he still recorded his speech and put his heart into the contest. When Matt was asked about the difficulties he faced in order to complete the requirements for the contest, he humbly answered, “it was a challenge because I am a slow reader. I am not superman.”
Matthew felt compelled to participate in the contest because he is very proud of the men and women who fight for our country. He also expressed that, “The military men and women sacrifice everything to get the country where it is; if it was not for them our country would not be what it is today.” We asked Matthew why he considers himself patriotic; he responded by saying, “I say the pledge every morning, with meaning. Whenever I see a military person I thank them and talk to them, they make many sacrifices for us. When I think of the military it makes me feel proud, we should all be proud.”
Even though there were many factors that made finishing this project a real challenge for Matt, he is glad that he completed it. He hopes to compel others to face their challenges. Matt feels that if he were able to rise to the occasion, anyone should be able to overcome obstacles no matter what their situation may be. It is Matt’s desire that by sharing his story of persevering through a difficult task, that others may feel encouraged to step out of their comfort zones, to take risks, and to set and achieve challenging goals for themselves. Matt believes that when next year’s contest is posted, that his will not be the only “voice” at Northern Lebanon to declare how great it is that we live in a democracy.

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