"Is our Constitution Still Relevant?" 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 Ladies Auxiliary. The grand prize is a $30,000 scholarship.

Townsend VFW Post #6538 and its Ladies Auxiliary and Pepperell VFW Post # 3291, and its Ladies School are co-sponsoring the program at North Middlesex Regional High School, Lunenburg High School, and Nashoba Valley Technical High School. The program is open to any Massachusetts student in grades 9-12. Young people who attend schools where the program is not being conducted by a VFW Post and/or Ladies Auxiliary may 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 Tony Saboliauskas, or Pepperell Chairman Fay McChristian.

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 out country, while they compete for awards, prizes and college scholarship monies.

The winner of the Townsend-Pepperell contest will receive $150 cash. $100 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 #16 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 15 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 Ladies Auxiliary Voice of Democracy competition will receive a $2,000 scholarship, a $500 check, and an all-expense paid trip to Washington,D.C. , in March. 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 Ladies Auxiliary, and receive a portion of the $152,000 in national scholarship monies. The department winners will also be invited to the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge's Youth Conference in June 2013 to renew friendships with the other department winners and learn more about America's history.

The national winner will receive a $30,000 scholarship and an all-expense paid trip to Louisville, Ky., for the VFW National Convention in July. The National Association of Secondary School Principals 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 "Is Our Constitution Still Relevant?" and then record it on a standard audio cassette tape or a CD, taking not less than three minutes, nor more than five minutes. The script read by the student should be the only sound on the tape or CD. No music, no special effects or background sounds will be allowed. The recording will be judged on originality (30 percent), content (35 percent), and delivery (35 percent). 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 or state 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 2012-2013 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, such as a standard radio or car CD player, before submitting their entry to ensure that those judging it will be able to listen to it on their CD player.

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 Thursday, Nov. 1.