VFW honors students in essay contests

Carol Rolf Originally Published March 24, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated March 22, 2013 at 10:20 a.m.
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Jesse W. Grisham of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2259 in Conway recognized winners of the Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen essay contests March 9 at the post home. Winners include, front row, from the left, Mary Hales and Joanie Elsinger; and back row, from the left, Elias Noyes, Colton Johnson, John Harwood and Gage Berger.

Jim Lee, commander of Jesse W. Grisham Post 2259 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, wants the public to know the local organization not only supports veterans but is also active in the community.

The local post provides gift baskets for needy families at Christmastime. It also supports the youth of the community by sponsoring two national essay contests. The Voice of Democracy Program is open to students in grades nine through 12, and the Patriot’s Pen program is open to students in grades six through eight.

Local winners advance to the District 6 competition, which includes Yell, Pope, Conway, Faulkner, Cleburne, Perry, Searcy and Van Buren counties. District winners advance to the state competition, and state winners,

to the national contest. The first-place VOD national winner will receive a $30,000 scholarship, and the first-place Patriot’s Pen national winner will receive $5,000 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C.

“This is a good opportunity for students in these age groups to pick up a pretty nice check, especially if they are able to advance,” Lee said. “We’d love to send one or more of our winners to D.C. to be able to accept one of the top prizes.

“We usually have good participation from the schools, especially the ones here in Conway. We would like to expand the participation to all schools in Faulkner County. And home-schoolers are welcome to enter as well.

“This year, we had a first and second place at district, with the first-place winner advancing to state, where she placed fourth.”

The topic of the 2012-2013 Voice of Democracy essay was, “Is Our Constitution Still Relevant?”

Winners in the local VOD essay contest are Colton Johnson, a senior at Vilonia High School and the son of D.J. and Jolene Johnson, first place and the recipient of $500; Mary Hales, a senior at Conway High School and the daughter of David and Nancy Hales, second place and the recipient of $250; and John Harwood, a junior at St. Joseph High School and the son of John and Jackie Harwood, third place and the recipient of $125.

Hales placed first in the District 6 competition and received an additional $100 prize, and placed fourth in the state competition.

The topic in the 2012-2013 Patriot’s Pen essay contest was, “What I Would Tell America’s Founding Fathers.”

Winners in the local contest are Gage Berger, an eighth-grader at St. Joseph High School and the son of Luke and Stephanie Berger, first place and the recipient of $300; Elias Noyes, a seventh-grader at Carl Stuart Middle School in Conway and the son of Richard and Katherine Noyes, second place and the recipient of $150; and Joanie Elsinger, an eighth-grader at St. Joseph High School and the daughter of Matt and Jackie Elsinger, third place and the recipient of $75.

Berger placed second in the District 6 competition and received an additional $50 cash prize.

Information on entering one of these essay contests will be available in area high school offices before the end of the school year. The theme for the 2013-2014 Voice of Democracy contest is, “Why I’m Optimistic About Our Nation’s Future.” The theme for the 2013-2014 Patriot’s Pen contest is, “What Patriotism Means to Mean.” The deadline to enter both contests is Nov. 1.

For more information, call (501) 329-1230 or email Commandervfw2259@gmail.com.

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