WARSAW — Each year the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 9810 and its Auxiliary offers scholarship programs for students in the Warsaw school district. These programs have been in existence for many years and give youth an opportunity to express their feelings about a patriotic theme through a recorded CD or a written essay.

“Young people who participate in the competition benefit by gaining a better understanding of their country, their freedoms and their obligations to America,” said Dwight Carlton, Warsaw VFW Post Commander.

The “Voice of Democracy” scholarship program is available to all eligible 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students. Home-schooled students are also eligible.

Foreign exchange students, students age 20 or older and previous VOD first place state winners are ineligible. Interested students need only write and then record a three to five minute audio essay on high quality audio CD or flash drive and provide their view of this year’s patriotic theme: “America: Where Do We Go From Here?”

When burning the CD, make sure that “Create Audio CD” option (or similar) is selected so the program can properly convert the sound file and burn it to CD. After it has been finished, be sure to play back your audio CD on a system other than your computer, such as a standard radio or car CD player, to verify that the conversion/burning process was successful.

Each student must be the sole author of the submitted essay. Students are judged on originality (30%), content (35%), and delivery (35%). Prizes and scholarships are awarded at the local, district, department (State), and national level. The Warsaw Post 9810 (Local level) winner will receive a cash award.

Each year nearly 57,000 high school students compete in the above mentioned categories for more than $2 million in scholarships and incentives.

For younger students in grades 6th, 7th, and 8th the VFW has a “Patriot’s Pen” program. For this program students are required to submit a 300-400 word typewritten essay, written by the student, on a patriotic theme chosen by the VFW’s commander-in-chief each year.

This year’s theme is “How Can I Be A Good American?”. Students are judged on knowledge of the theme (30%), theme development (35%), and clarity of ideas (35%). Winners will receive cash prizes of varying amounts at the local, district, state, and national levels of competition. The Warsaw Post 9810 (local level) winner will receive a small cash award, whereas the national winners will receive at least $500 cash. The first-place national winner will receive $5,000.

The deadline for both VOD and PP local entries is midnight Oct. 31, when their CD and written essay must be turned into the Post VOD/PP Chairman, David R. Benton address 1053 N. NC 11-903 Highway in Kenansville.

Students may visit the VFW web site at www.vfw.org/community/youth & education/youth scholarships for further information and to get an official entry form. If you do not have internet access, please feel free to contact Mr. Benton at 910-985-2385 or drbentonc5a@gmail.com and he can provide you the necessary entry forms to fill out and return with your entry CD or essay.

Ena Sellers may be reached at esellers@ncweeklies.com