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Voice Of Democracy Essay Contest 2013-14

The VFW holds a yearly “Voice of Democracy” competition for high school age students to demonstrate the meaning of patriotism in today’s society. For High School students, this includes a written essay and a recording of the student presenting the essay up to five minutes in length. The Topic this year was “Is our Constitution Still Relevant”. Each post receives submissions which are judged on a number of factors and the winners from each post compete at the District level.

This year’s winner for Safety Harbor Post #10093 was Kyle Howarth who lives in Oldsmar and is a Freshman at East Lake High School. Kyle presented a very well written and spoken essay on the topic addressing how each of the key foundations of the Constitution applies today. These include Federalism, Popular Sovereignty, Separation of Powers, Checks and Balances, and Judicial Review.

On December 8, Kyle and his family attended the District awards meeting in Holiday. To our Post’s great pleasure, Kyle’s essay/speech won the District competition. Kyle was asked to present his essay which he did in a very well-spoken delivery. Kyle received a trophy for his District win and a cash award from both the local post and District. His essay/speech now goes on to compete at the State level.

Kyle’s parents are Steve and Nerissa Howarth from Oldsmar. Steve is a Senior Vice President and Professional Engineer with Cardno TBE in Clearwater Florida and Nerissa is a Registered Nurse. When asked what created Kyle’s drive to participate in the contest, his parents explained that Kyle truly had an interest in the topic and a passion for writing. “One without the other would not deliver a winning essay,” said his parents. “Both of Kyle’s grandfathers served in the armed forces and Kyle has been raised to respect and be thankful for the efforts of our Veterans. Further, Kyle is a straight A student who has had the benefit of teachers who focused very strongly on writing. He understands the correct balance between a persuasive essay and one that has passion and meaning,” said his parents.

Kyle is not new to award competitions. He placed third at the District level for VFW’s Patriot Pen Competition for Middle School Students two years ago and has won the County’s Showcase of Achievement Award for Academics two years in a row. He has also won the Pinellas County Math and Science Pride Awards. As part of Duke University’s Talent Identification Program, Kyle even took the High School SAT test in Seventh Grade and scored higher than 90% of the High School Students taking the test. A sampling of other writing awards Kyle has won includes the Annual Communitywide Holocaust Memorial Writing Competition, Palm Harbor Library’s “Going Green” essay, and the National History Day writing competition.

Kyle is Vice President of his Freshman class Student Government and helps manage East Lake High School’s Soccer team. He plays soccer himself for the Clearwater Chargers competitive soccer program and has been on a team competing for the State title several years in a row. Kyle and his family also attend Bayside Community Church of God right here in Safety Harbor.

When asked what drives Kyle to excel in so many areas, Kyle’s father explained “we create an environment which encourages and recognizes achievement but the passion and drive come from within. Kyle has been fortunate to have a family and teachers which imposed the right values but that only creates the framework for success. Kyle continues to excel because of his drive for excellence, passion for his work, and a genuine interest in his community and all that he does.”

Kyle stated “I am very thankful to the VFW Safety Harbor Post and District Post for holding this competition to highlight the importance of patriotism and the efforts of our Veterans. This writing competition is yet another way in which the VFW gives back to the community. We appreciate all you have done for our Country and continue to do for our Community.”

Voice of Democracy 2015-16 “My Vision for America”

1st Place – $100 2nd Place – $50 3rd Place – $25

State level prizes range from $400 – $1,200

National level prizes range from $1,000 – $30,000

Each year, more than 45,000 high school students from across the country enter to win a share of the $2.2 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the VFW’s Voice of Democracy audio-essay competition.

Knowing that a democratic society needs nurturing, the VFW established the Voice of Democracy program (VOD) in 1947 to provide students grades 9-12 the opportunity to express themselves in regards to democratic ideas and principles.

Students should record their reading of the draft to a CD. The recording can be no shorter than three minutes and no longer than five minutes (plus or minus five seconds).

The national first-place winner receives a $30,000 scholarship paid directly to the recipient’s American university, college or vocational/technical school. Other national scholarships range from $1,000- $16,000 and the first-place winner from each (State) VFW Department wins an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.

Patriot’s Pen 2015-16 Theme “What Freedom Means to Me”

1st Place – $75 2nd Place – $40 3rd Place – $20

State level prizes range from $50 – $700

National level prizes range from $500 – $5,000

VFW believes strongly in good citizenship and fostering patriotism. That’s why we encourage youthful minds to examine our nation’s history and their own experiences in modern American society through our Patriot’s Pen youth essay-writing contest.

Annually, roughly 126,000 students from grades 6-8 (nationwide) enter. One first-place winner from each state competes to win one of 46 national awards totaling $46,000. The national first-place winner wins $5,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., in March.

Students draft a 300-400 word essay, expressing their views based on an — always patriotic — annual theme chosen by the VFW Commander-in-Chief.

Youth Essay * 2015-16 Theme “Why is America my favorite Country”

1st Place – $50 2nd Place – $25 3rd Place – $15

State level prizes range from $50 – $100

*This is a State of Washington program only not National (yet)

This essay contest is for grades 3 thru 5. This is exclusively awarded by the VFW Department of Washington. Judging is done at the Local Post, District and State levels. The state winner will receive a Savings Bond. Youth Essay Entry Form

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