Students Voice their Patriotism in local competition

Photo by Christy Porter
Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen Winners with VFW members at Monday evening’s banquet. Pictured from left: Back; Princess Fahnestock, Ladies Auxiliary Commander, Leah Otte, Rachel Wallace, Hannah Tillery, Ashlynn Burns, Reece Derrickson, Jazmine Brannon, VFW Commander Billie Krewson and Briana McLaughlin. Front; Michael Washko, Nolan Fitzsimmons, Jayanna Draper, Paul DuBose, Benjamin Steelman, Kendall Johnson and Nikaylee Sheppard. Not Pictured: Emma Taber, Kaytlyn Routh, Lilly Hines, MaKenna Pritchett and Charlotte Fowler.

By Christy Porter,
Managing Editor

  Veterans, VFW Ladies Auxiliary, parents, school administration and staff honored local winners of the Licking Memorial VFW Post 6337 Voices of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen essay competitions at a ceremonial awards banquet Monday, Jan. 21, hosted at the VFW hall in Licking.
  Both competitions are sponsored by the VFW nationwide as part of their ongoing dedication to investing in future generations and promoting patriotism. Competition begins at local level, advances to VFW District (regional) level, continues to VFW Department (state) level and then to VFW National level, with all level competitions awarded prizes and/or scholarships. The National Commander chooses the yearly themes.
  The evening began with a greeting from Billie Krewson, Post Commander, followed by a blessing from Adonia Rask, Auxiliary Chaplain. A delicious dinner preceded introductions and recognitions, followed by presentation of awards and readings of some of the first and second place essays.
   The majority of participants in the 2018 – 2019 Patriot’s Pen essay competition were 7th and 8th grade students with all local schools represented. This competition consists of an original written essay, 300-400 words in length, in which the students are given the opportunity to express their views and experiences on democracy and are encouraged to examine America’s history. Judging is done on a point system showing knowledge and research of the theme, development of the theme and clarity of the idea. This year’s theme was “Why I honor the American Flag.” Local chairperson of the Patriot’s Pen competition was Cassie Ingram.
  The essayists for Patriot’s Pen all conveyed pride in being an American, as well as respect for the American flag in that it represents the freedom and sacrifice given by so many veterans. They conveyed the symbolism and how it was applicable in their lives and relationships.
  The winners of the Patriot’s Pen competition include:
  From Houston: first place, Benjamin Steelman; second place, Kendall Johnson; third place, Ashlynn Burns.
  From Licking: first place, Rachel Wallace; second place, Kaytlyn Routh; third place, Emma Taber.
  From Plato: first place, Paul DuBose; second place, Jayanna Draper; third place, Nolan Fitzsimmons.
  From Raymondville: first place, Charlotte Fowler; second place, MaKenna Pritchett; third place, Lilly Hines.
  From Success: first place, Nikaylee Sheppard; second place, Briana McLaughlin; third place, Jazmine Brannon.
  All first place winners advanced to District competition.
  Patriot’s Pen prizes were: first place, $75; second place, $50; third place $25.
  “I was impressed by the enthusiasm of the teachers, the kids and the participation at this level,” said Krewson.
  The participants in the Voice of Democracy competition wrote and then presented their original essay via a 3 -5 minute audio recording on the theme, “Why my vote matters.” Students in grades 9 – 12 are eligible for the VOD essay competition. The essay is judged on a point system, which includes originality showing imagination and human interest based on the theme. The student must also clearly express and develop their ideas in content and speak clearly and credibly in their delivery.
During the presentation of their essays at the ceremony, the first place winners expressed a desire to make a difference and showed recognition that voting is a right as well as a responsibility.
  The winners of the Voice of Democracy competition include:
  From Houston: first place, Leah Otte; second place, Michael Washko.
  From Licking: first place, Hannah Tillery; second place, Reece Derrickson.
  Both first place winners advanced to District where Otte took third place in competition.
  Billie Krewson, Post Commander and VOD Chairperson, proudly said, “This is the second year in a row we’ve had someone place in District. It’s great when academic achievements are recognized.”
  Voice of Democracy prizes were:  first place, $200; second place, $150.
  Judges for both competitions were: Aaron Hall, Ed Folger, Harry Brevort, Susan Brevort, Cassie Ingram, Devon Ingram and Adonia Rask.
  The local VFW Post 6337 starts their involvement with students at the fifth grade level by inviting them to participate in their annual Dignified Disposal of Unserviceable Flags, which includes student involvement and a question and answer session. Monday evening Krewson noted the irony of protestors who burn the American Flag, yet burning the American Flag is the only proper way to dispose of our flag.
  Post involvement continues with sponsoring the annual local level of the Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen essay competitions. They provided a sumptuous banquet for the honorees and other attendees, beginning with an entree offering of lasagna, meatloaf and hamburgers provided by Dunky’s Ice Cream & Diner. Entrees were accompanied with salads and sides provided by members and auxiliary, and followed with desserts also provided by members, auxiliary and My Little Cupcake.
  The evening concluded with Krewson thanking the parents and grandparents for helping to instill patriotic pride in their young people; because of the family, we are a great nation.
  It is the intent of The Licking News to publish a selection of the Finalist’s essays in future editions.



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