Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6747 Commander Lorenzo Espino (far left) and Auxiliary President Sandy Lockwood (far right) gather with this year’s scholarship winners Karla Vasquez, Angelina Smith, Mya Lopez and Juliette Romero. (Contributed Photo)

SALINAS VALLEY — Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6747 in King City recently awarded scholarships to four students from South Monterey County who participated in the local organization’s Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen youth contests.

The Voice of Democracy audio-essay competition is open to high school students in grades 9 through 12 who compete by writing and recording a three- to five-minute essay based on an annual patriotic theme. The Patriot’s Pen essay competition gives an opportunity for students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades to express their opinions and improve their writing skills on a given theme.

This year’s theme for both programs challenged students to answer the question, “What Makes America Great?”

Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 6747 and its Auxiliary hosted a ceremony Jan. 9 to award the local scholarship winners.

The 2019-20 Voice of Democracy first-place winner was Karla Vasquez, 11th grader at Soledad High School.

The 2019-20 Patriot’s Pen winners were Angelina Smith, sixth grader at Jack Franscioni School in Soledad (first place); Mya Lopez, seventh grader at San Antonio School in Lockwood (second place); and Juliette Romero, sixth grader at San Antonio School in Lockwood (third place). 

All the local winners received a scholarship amount as well as a certificate or plaque for their achievement. Both first-place winners will have their entries judged at the district level and, if selected, will move on to state and potentially the national competition.

“Dedicated to encouraging a better understanding and appreciation of America, the VFW’s Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen essay competitions help foster patriotism among today’s youth,” according to a news release from the VFW of the United States. “The programs also promote friendly competition and rewards success in the form of some $3 million in (total) scholarships.”

More than 40,000 students competed in last year’s Voice of Democracy competition, while more than 111,000 student essays were submitted in the Patriot’s Pen competition. Youth from South Monterey County were invited to participate in this year’s contests.

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Ryan Cronk is the managing editor for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for South Monterey County and the surrounding communities.


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