TOWNSEND -- Townsend VFW Post No. 6538 and its Auxiliary are sponsoring the Patriot's Pen Contest for students in grades six, seven, and eight. The theme for this year's essay is "America's Gift to My Generation."

Each essay must be typewritten in English. No color or graphics may be added. The essay should contain 300 to 400 words. Every word, regardless of length, will be counted. A one-letter word, a hyphenated word, or a number (no matter how many digits it contains) will be counted as a single word. The essay title or added footnotes do not contribute to the word count.

Students should not put their name on their essay, but a completed Official Student Patriot's Pen Competition Entry Form must be stapled to the top of it.

Participants should not identify themselves, their school, town, state, race, or country of origin within their essay.

Their approach to the theme should be positive and clearly focused. Quotations may be used sparingly if plainly identified whenever used.

The essay will be judged on knowledge of the theme (30 points), theme development (35 points), and clarity of ideas (35 points).

This is the 24th year the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and its Auxiliary have sponsored a youth essay program which gives students in grades six through eight the opportunity to express their views on democracy and improve their writing skills while they compete for worthwhile awards and prizes.


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More than 120,000 students participated in this nationwide competition last year.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) has approved the Patriot's Pen Contest for its National Advisory List of Student Contests and Activities for 2017-2018.

The program offers valuable prizes at several levels of competition. The top prize of $5,000 will be awarded by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and its Auxiliary to the first-place national winner at the VFW and its Auxiliary Washington Conference in March 2018. Additional national prizes include $4,000 for second place, $3,500 for third place, $2,750 for fourth place, $2,500 for fifth place, $2,000 for sixth place, $1,750 for seventh place, $1,500 each to the eighth and ninth place winners, $1,250 each to the tenth and 11th place winners, $1,000 each to the 12th through 22nd place winners, $750 each to the 23th and 24th place winners, and $500 each to the 25th through 54th place winners.

At the local level, $100 will be awarded to the first-place contest winner. The second-place winner will receive $70 and $40 will be awarded to the third-place winner. The Townsend VFW Post and Auxiliary will advance one of its highest scoring essays to the District 15 level of competition for each fifteen entries received at the local level.

The District 15 VFW and its Auxiliary will award a total of $225 in cash to their top three winners. The winning district entry will be entered into the Department of Massachusetts VFW level of competition. The state's top five winners will each receive monetary awards from both the Department of Massachusetts VFW and the VFW Auxiliary Department of Massachusetts. The first-place state entry will be entered into the national competition.

Essay entries should be submitted to VFW Auxiliary to Townsend Post No. 6538 President Betty Mae Tenney or to Townsend VFW Post No. 6538 Past Commander Russell Jobe by Tuesday, October 31. Students who attend the Hawthorne Brook Middle School should submit their entries to Miss Tenney or Mr. Jobe through their classroom teachers.