TOWNSEND -- "American History: Our Hope for the Future" is the theme of this year's Voice of Democracy Patriotic Audio Essay Competition sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and its Auxiliary. The grand prize is a $30,000 scholarship.

Townsend VFW Post No. 6538 and its Auxiliary and Pepperell VFW Post No. 3291 are co-sponsoring the program at North Middlesex Regional, Nashoba Valley Technical, Groton-Dunstable Regional, Ayer Shirley, and Lunenburg High Schools. The program is open to all Massachusetts students in grades 9-12. Young people who attend schools where the program is not being conducted by a VFW Post and/or its Auxiliary or who are enrolled in an approved home school program may enter the Townsend-Pepperell program by submitting their entry to Townsend VFW Post Chairman Russell Jobe, Townsend VFW Auxiliary Chairman Betty Mae Tenney, or Pepperell VFW Post Chairman Paul Rakiey.

The Voice of Democracy Program is designed to foster patriotism by giving high school students the opportunity to voice their opinion about their personal obligations as an American and address their responsibilities to our country while they compete for awards, prizes, and college scholarship monies.

The winner of the Townsend-Pepperell contest will receive $150.


in cash. One hundred dollars will be awarded to the second place winner, while the third place winner will receive $50.

The local first place winning entry will be entered into the District #15 level of competition where cash prizes will be awarded to the winning contestants. Additional top scoring local entries will be entered into the District 15 level of judging for each additional fifteen entries received at the local level. The district's first place winning entry will be entered into the state competition, where the top five winners will each receive a scholarship and a cash prize.

The winner of the Department of Massachusetts VFW and its Auxiliary Voice of Democracy competition will receive a $2,000 scholarship, a $500 check, and an all-expense paid trip to Washington, DC, in March 2018. While there, the Massachusetts winner will join the winners of the other 53 departments to tour the city, meet our nation's leaders, be honored by the VFW and its Auxiliary, and receive a portion of the $154,000 in national scholarship monies.

The department winners will also be invited to the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge's Youth Conference in June 2018.

The national winner will receive a $30,000 scholarship and an all-expense paid trip to Kansas City, Missouri, for the VFW National Convention in July 2018.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) has again approved the Voice of Democracy Contest for its National Advisory List of Contests and Activities.

To enter the Voice of Democracy competition, each contestant must write his/her essay on "American History: Our Hope for the Future" and then record it on an audio CD or a flash drive, taking not less than three minutes or more than five minutes. The script as read by the student should be the only sound on the audio CD or flash drive. No music, special effects, or background sounds will be allowed.

The recording will be judged on originality (30 points), content (35 points), and delivery (35 points). Treatment of the theme should show imagination and human interest. The ideas should be clearly expressed in an organized manner. The contestant should speak in a clear and credible manner.

Participants cannot identify themselves, their school, city, state, race, or country of origin within their written essay or recording. However, they should label their recording and their neatly typed essay to alleviate any confusion over the ownership of the entry. Their name, address, and school should be listed on the 2017-2018 Official Voice of Democracy Entry Form which is attached to their typed essay. 

Entrants should play their audio CD on a system other than their computer before submitting their entry to ensure that those judging it will be able to listen to it.

All recorded entries, accompanied by a typed copy of the script and a completed official entry form, must be submitted to a Townsend or Pepperell Voice of Democracy Chairman by Tuesday, October 31.