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VFW announces writing contests
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The themes for this year’s Patriot’s Pen and Voice of Democracy contests offered by the VFW and its Ladies Auxiliary have been announced.
“We like to announce the themes as early as we can so students can get started on their projects,” said Ladies Auxiliary president Phyllis Barnes.
Patriot’s Pen provides students in grades 6-8 the opportunity to express their opinion on a patriotic theme and improve their writing skills while they compete for worthwhile awards and prizes. This year’s theme is “What Patriotism Means to Me.” The deadline for entering is Nov. 1. Home-schooled students are eligible.
The Voice of Democracy competition provides high school freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors the opportunity to write and record a broadcast script on a patriotic theme, with this year’s being “Why I’m Optimistic About Our Nation’s Future.” The deadline for entering is Nov. 1. Home-schooled students are eligible.
Patriot’s Pen awards are given at the local, district, and state levels. The state winners compete for $46,000 in awards at the national level. The first place national winner receives a $5,000 award and an all-expenses paid trip to Washington D.C. where they tour the city.
VOD entries will be competing for more than $2.3 million in college scholarships and incentives. State winners receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to enjoy our nation’s capital and compete for $152,000 in scholarships — first place receiving a $30,000 scholarship.
Patriot’s Pen and Voice of Democracy have rules that must be strictly adhered to.
“It’s always sad when we have a promising young student and their entry has to be disqualified because they didn’t follow the rules,” said Barnes.
A complete list of rules for each contest can be found at www.vfw.org. 
Barnes is also encouraging people to nominate an exceptional teacher for the Smart/ Maher VFW National C.E. Teacher of the Year Program.
“Each year three exceptional teachers are recognize by the Veterans of Foreign Wars for their outstanding commitment to teach Americanism and patriotism to their students,” she said.
The VFW annually recognizes the nation’s top classroom elementary, junior high and high school teachers who teach citizenship education topics — at least half of the school day in a classroom environment — and promote America’s history, traditions and institutions effectively.
The awards include the following items:
• A national $1,000 award for the top K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 grade teachers for professional development expenses.
• $1,000 award for each winning teacher’s school.
• Plaques for both the winning teacher and school.
• An all-expenses-paid trip to attend a VFW conference and receive their award.
Teacher nominations must be received by Nov. 1 by a local VFW Post.
For brochures about the contests or more information, contact Barnes at 934-3219, by email at maryjerry@blomand.net, or visit the VFW’s website at www.vfw.org.