At Veteran Energy, we love updates from our Affinity Partners. So we were excited this week when we got a chance to talk to Texas VFW about their yearly college essay competitions—one of the many things this organization does for veterans and their families.
Each year, tens of thousands of kids from across the nation compete for more than $3.4 million in scholarships in VFW’s Patriot’s Pen contest, for middle schoolers, and Voice of Democracy contest, for high schoolers. The contest, VFW says, is a way to invest in the future and help promote patriotism and democracy.
This week, we talked to Texas VFW State Adjutant and Quartermaster Dan West about the state competition, which wrapped up last month at Texas VFW’s annual conference.
Dan said 7,224 Texas middle school students took part in this last Patriot’s Pen competition, and 1,701 high school students participated in the Voice of Democracy competition. First place winners will get an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. at the beginning of March to compete for another $30,000 at the national level.
Dan said contestants are evaluated on originality, content and spoken delivery. The VFW awarded a total of 22 scholarships. Here’s a list of the top three 2019-2020 Texas essay winners for both contests:
Patriot’s Pen (6th –8th grade)
- First place: Evelyn A. Fisher, homeschooled 6th-grader from Lubbock ($1,000 award)
- Second place: Angela R. Huffman, 8th-grader from Mason ISD, Mason ($500 award)
- Third place: Ella Kirsten Malone, 8th-grader from Danforth Jr. High School, Wimberly ($250 award)
Voice of Democracy (high school)
- First place: Jessica J. Schlaudt, homeschooled 11th-grader from Lufkin ($10,000 award)
- Second place: Hannah G. Moreno, homeschooled 9th-grader from Breckenridge ($8,000 award)
- Third place: Lydia F. Covey, homeschooled 12th-grader from Orange ($7,000 award)
Additionally, Dan said, 261 Texas teachers were nominated this year for the Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award. It recognizes teachers for their “outstanding commitment to teaching Americanism and patriotism.” State-level winners haven’t been announced just yet, but three will eventually go on to the national level. Winners get $1,000 toward professional development, $1,000 for their school, two plaques and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.
At Veteran Energy, we’re so proud of all the students who entered this contest and the teachers who were nominated for Teacher of the Year. Congratulations to all of you.