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— Commander Howard Schuettpelz of VFW Post 8109 has announced the kick-off of this year's VFW and its Ladies Auxiliary Patriot's Pen Essay Contest and Voice of Democracy scholarship competition.

Patriot's Pen, a youth essay contest endorsed by the National Association of Secondary School Principals' contest criteria, is a nationwide competition that gives students in grades six through eight the opportunity to write essays expressing their opinions based on an annual theme.

Contestants write a 300-400 word essay based on an annual patriotic theme.

The first place winner receives a $10,000 savings bond and an all-expensepaid trip to WashingtonD.C. The top national winners each receive a savings bond anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000.

The theme for 2009-2010 is "When is the right time to honor our military heroes?"

Created in 1947, the Voice of Democracy (VOD) scholarship program is an audio-essay contest for high school students in grades nine to twelve that annually provides more than $3 million in scholarships. The first place winner, who competes with all the first place VFW Department (State) winners, receives a $30,000 scholarship that is paid directly to the recipient's American university, college or vocational/technical school.

Besides competing for the top scholarship prize, as well as other nationalscholarships ranging from $1,000 to $16,000, each Department's first place winner receives an all-expense-paid trip to Washington D.C., sponsored by Target.

The VOD program is endorsed by the National Association of Secondary School Principals' contest criteria and is designed to foster patriotism by allowing students the opportunity to voice their opinion ina three to five minute essay based on an annual theme.

The theme for the 2009-2010 contest is "Does America still have heroes?"

Students can enter by submitting the required entry form, along with their essay and recording to VFW Post 8109. Contest deadline is Sunday, Nov. 1, 2009. For information, call Comm. Schuettpelz at 619-8799 or Auxiliary President Virginia Hance at 631-7641.

Community, Pages 7 on 09/16/2009

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