Three Perham area students who entered the Veterans of Foreign War Fall essay contest have advanced to the next level in the contest put on by the VFW Auxiliary Post 420.

The Auxiliary hosted three different essay contest. Voice of Democracy for students in grades ninth through 12th grades, Patriot’s Pen for students in grades sixth through eighth, and a fifth-grade essay contest.

“It’s a competition and gives the students an opportunity to voice their opinions on their responsibilities to our country,” VFW Auxiliary Post 420 Youth Activities Coordinator Nancy Schmitz said. “And their thought on a given topic.”

The first-place winners were Katie Johnson, Perham High School 12th grade, Voice of Democracy; Jacob Hammers, St. Paul’s Lutheran School seventh grade, Patriot’s Pen; and Isabelle Hennagir, St. Paul’s Lutheran School fifth grade, fifth-grade essay contest.

All of the contests has prizes on the local, district, and state level, but only the Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen go onto compete on the national level, Schmitz said. She said that both the Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen entries that go are competing for scholarships among other prizes.

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Schmitz said those who go onto the district competition against winners from the other 22 Auxiliaries in the district then if they go onto state they compete with the nine other districts in the state. State winners go onto nationals.

This year’s essay contest was well entered on the local level, Schmitz said. With 17 fifth graders writing on “What the American Flag means to me?”, 22 middle school submitting a written essay on “What Patriotism is to me?” and five high school students submitting audio essays on “Is this the country the founders envisioned?”

“We’re really proud of those entries. Those entries are really above and beyond their required schoolwork,” Schmitz said.

Schmitz said Voice of Democracy winners on the local level received $75 for first place, $50 for second, $25 for third, and $15 for all other entries up to fifth place.

Patriot’s Pen winners on the local level received $50 for first place, $25 for second, $15 for third and smaller prizes for all other participants.

Fifth-grade essay winners on the local level received a $2 bill for first place, a silver dollar for second, a 50 cents piece for third, and smaller prizes for all other participants.