Students Speak about Democracy in VFW Auxiliary Competition

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), January 27, 2008 | Go to article overview

Students Speak about Democracy in VFW Auxiliary Competition


Byline: Kirstin Finneran

There is a ritual that takes place every Wednesday at the Carpentersville VFW Post 5915.

Folks file in, take their seats and prepare for the bingo game to start. Good luck charms are arranged and cards are lined up all in anticipation of the first call.

And while players are in for a fun and entertaining way to spend the afternoon, the money they paid to get in is set aside for a most worthy cause.

That money is finding its way toward its intended recipients today at the VFW's Ladies Auxiliary Scholarship and Awards Luncheon. More than $6,000 is being donated today to winners of the VFW's scholarship programs and other organizations throughout the community.

The VFW's two scholarship programs are national in scope. According to Elaine Slack, who is co-chairwoman of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary 5915 Youth Activities & Scholarship program along with her husband Chuck, the historical Voice of Democracy scholarship program was initiated by the National Association of Broadcasters in 1946.

"The Voice of Democracy is a national audio competition designed to allow ninth- through 12th-grade high school students to voice their opinion on their responsibility to our nation. Veterans of Foreign War became involved in the program in 1950 and they took on the sole responsibility in 1961," Slack said.

To enter, high school students submit a three- to five-minute audio essay. This year's theme was "My Role in Honoring American Veterans." Slack said winners from Post 5915 are sent to the district level of competition. From there they can advance to the state and then national level. The first-place national winner receives a $30,000 scholarship that is paid directly to the recipient's American university, college, or vocational/technical school.

This year's first-place winner at Post 5915 is Blythe C. Meyer, who is in the 12th grade at Burlington Central High School. She placed first at 5th District Department of Illinois, and will be advancing to the state level competition. She will travel to Springfield next month to compete with 19 other districts. Meyer will receive $300 in scholarship money from the Carpentersville VFW as well as a plaque.

In second place is Nancy J. O'Neill, a 12th-grader at Dundee- Crown High School in Carpentersville. O'Neill will receive $200 in scholarship money today. And in third place is Brittany M. Seyller, an 11th-grader at St Edward Central Catholic High School in Elgin. Seyller will receive $100 in scholarship money.

The VFW's other scholarship program is the "Patriot's Pen" essay contest for sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders. This essay contest was established in 1995. To enter, students must submit a 300- to 400-word written essay. This year's theme was "Why I Am an American Patriot. …

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