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The Shawnee News-Star
  • VFW offers contests, scholarships, awards

  • Each year, the Veterans of Foreign Wars offers students an opportunity to express themselves, compete for U.S. Savings Bonds and scholarships, and to recognize teachers who promote Americanism and patriotism in their classrooms.


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  • Each year, the Veterans of Foreign Wars offers students an opportunity to express themselves, compete for U.S. Savings Bonds and scholarships, and to recognize teachers who promote Americanism and patriotism in their classrooms.
    Three of the primary ways VFW achieves this goal are through the Patriot’s Pen Essay Contest, the Voice of Democracy Scholarship competition and the Teacher of the Year program.
    “It’s a great way to teach the students and for them to share their patriotism,” said Barbara White, president of Ladies Auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign Affairs, Post 1317. “We’ve had winners from Oklahoma win the national essay contest. The local winners go to district; the district goes to state; and state goes to nationals.”
    The essay contest is designed for middle school students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades and focuses on patriotic themes that assist students with expressing themselves and with improving their writing skills. It also offers an opportunity to win awards at the local, district, state and national levels.
    State winners compete at the national level for U.S. Savings Bonds totalling $74,500. The national winner receives a $10,000 U.S. Savings Bond and an opportunity for an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., to tour the city and to be further recognized at the VFW Ladies Auxiliary Community Service Conference.
    For high school freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors, the VFW sponsors a scholarship competition that was started by the National Association of Broadcasters in 1946. VFW assumed sole responsibility for the competition in 1961 and continues to offer the opportunity to compete for a first place national award of a $30,000 scholarship.
    High school students who wish to compete write and record a broadcast script based on the current year’s patriotic theme. More than $2.5 million in college scholarships and additional incentives are awarded to winners annually.
    State winners of the Voice of Democracy Scholarship competition receive a free trip to Washington, D. C., scheduled for March 2010, where they can further compete for $146,000 in scholarships, divided among winners.
    An additional art contest is offered by VFW and more information about it is available on the national VFW Web site, www.vfw.org, White said.
    “They can also download the essay theme and the entry information for this year from the Web site,” she said. “And they can turn in their submissions to the VFW Post 1317 in Shawnee.”
    The local post is located at 811 E. MacArthur.
    Teachers are also important to VFW members and three are recognized annually for their “outstanding commitment to teach Americanism and patriotism to their students.”
    One teacher from each an elementary, a junior high and a high school are recognized for the national award by VFW, based on citizenship education topics taught for at least half of a school day in the classroom and effective promotion of “America’s history, traditions and institutions.”
    Page 2 of 2 - “The VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award recipients are selected from entries submitted by local VFW Posts in every state and overseas,” a brochure about the program states.
    The recognition includes a national $1,000 Past Commander-in-Chief John Smart award for each of the top teachers in three groups: kindergarten through fifth grades, sixth through eighth grades and ninth through 12th grades. The award is to be used for professional development expenses the teachers have.
    Other recognition includes a $1,000 award for the schools of each winning teacher, plaques for the winning teachers and their schools and a free trip to Washington, D.C. First place winners in each category are also given the opportunity to conduct workshops at the VFW and Ladies Auxiliary National Community Service Conference.
    The deadline for entry in any of the above competitions is Nov. 1.
    For local competition information, call White at 273-8737.
    ———
    Johnna Ray may be reached at 214-3934.

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