St. Clair Shores teacher David Oster teaches Lakeview High School�s Advanced Placement Government and Economics classes and finds the Veterans of Foreign Wars Voice of Democracy audio-essay contest to be a valuable part of his curriculum.
�The contest is perfect for an AP United States Government class,� Oster, a 25-year veteran teacher, said.
The VFW established the Voice of Democracy program in 1947 to provide students grades 9-12 the opportunity to express themselves on democratic ideas and principles.
The contest lets students examine America�s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society, by drafting a 300- to 400-word essay, expressing their views based on a patriotic theme chosen by the VFW commander-in-chief.
Oster makes the essay part of the contest a required assignment. The VOD theme this year was, �My Vision for America.�
�My students figure if they�ve already done the essay part of the work, they might as well record it as an audio and enter the scholarship contest,� Oster said.
His student Corey Groves entered this year through the VFW Bruce Post 1146 and won first place at the post level.
�Corey is a good student, and he works hard. The focus was the need to understand and embrace the U.S. Constitution, and on American exceptionalism. In order for there to be liberty and freedom around the world, we have to look at where it started, which is the United States of America. Other people have always looked to the United States as a beacon of freedom.
�My more motivated students will enter these scholarship contests. The assignment helps them stay focused and gives them the incentive to do well and keep going until May (when standardized testing takes place.)
�I make the assignment an actual requirement. If they have to do it for extra credit, since they are burdened down with homework from all their classes, I don�t get as many entries as I�d like,� Oster said. �Since I make it a requirement to do the essay, it�s not much extra to enter the contest. They figure if they learned the material in order to do the essay, they might as well do the speech.
�The topics usually have something to do with United States democratic ideals and the Constitution. Those are the ideals the VFW promotes, and it�s something the kids have to learn about,� he said. �One year it was on �is there anything you would change about the Constitution?� and �is American democracy still relevant?� It gets them thinking further about things addressed in class. Students need to be taught more about the constitution and government and American values.
�Students can initially win $200. That�s a lot of money to a teenager. If a kid gets a check and gets rewarded for something they did, that�s a good thing,� Oster said.
About 40,000 high school students enter the VOD competition to win a share of $2 million in educational scholarships. The national first-place winner receives a $30,000 scholarship paid directly to the recipient�s American university, college, or vocational or technical school. Other national scholarships range from $1,000 to $16,000, and the first-place winner from each state�s VFW department wins a minimum scholarship of $1,000.
The VFW annually distributes $3.4 million in scholarships, monetary awards and other incentives to middle school and high school students through competitions.
Oster said teachers have to guide their students into the contest, then make sure they get materials to the VFW contacts. For more information, contact Gloria Dobbie at 586-739-8095. She is the VFW 4659 Auxiliary scholarship chairwoman.
District 5 of the VFW includes Macomb and Oakland counties. In January of each year, the VFW 5th District holds a banquet to which teachers are invited to honor winning students from those counties.
The VOD winners at the district level are: first place Julia M. Schrameck from Oxbow VFW Post 4156 in White Lake, second place Pragya Thakur from VFW Old Settler�s Post 4659 in Shelby Township and third place was Grace Wang from VFW Post 4037 in Troy.
Middle school students write essays
More than 125,000 students in grades 6-8 enter the Patriot�s Pen essay contest annually. The first-place winner from each state competes for national awards totaling $50,000, with each receiving a minimum of $500 at the national level. The national first-place winner wins $5,000.
Terry McCain teaches history and social studies at Anchor Bay Middle School North. Like Oster, he was encouraged by his principal to have his students participate in the VFW contest, and he incorporates it into his curriculum. The Patriot�s Pen theme was �What Freedom Means to Me.�
�My students pretty much do an essay every week,� McCain said. �The contest motivates them. The paper that won locally talked about Rosa Parks and about being a female in America and the Bill of Rights. It hit a lot of different areas. It was interesting reading some of the papers. Many students didn�t feel like they had freedom, so we talked about what goes on in other countries, especially about what rights females have here compared to other countries.�
The Patriot�s Pen winners at the district level are: first place Katerina E. Dimcevski from VFW Post 334 North Oakland in Oxford; second place Fernanda Camacho Castro also from VFW Post 334 North Oakland in Oxford and third place Ian Burke from VFW Post 582 in Ortonville. The dinner honoring the students, who were accompanied by their teachers and parents, was at VFW Post 7573 in New Baltimore.
The first-place winning entries in the VOD contest and Patriot�s Pen contest are chosen by local VFW posts and auxiliaries in November, then forwarded to the district for judging.
�The first-place entries in both contests will then be included in the state judging,� Dobbie said. �The students will be invited to the VFW and Auxiliary midwinter conference where they will enjoy a weekend of activities.�
That conference in Lansing ends Sunday.
�The conference concludes with a banquet where the students will learn where their essays placed in the final judging. In addition to monetary awards, the first-place winners in both contests will be invited on an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. in March where they will learn where their entry placed on the national level,� she said.
The essay themes for 2016-2017 are: VOD �My Responsibility to America� and Patriot�s Pen �The America I Believe In.� Entry forms will be on the VFW national website next month. Students, including those who are home-schooled, have until Nov. 1 to submit entries.
VFW programs help vets
The VFW, established in 1899, has more than four million members and nonmembers who dedicate millions of volunteer hours to its programs.
The VFW educates separating service members on how to receive VA benefits via 18 discharge offices and 1,700 VFW-accredited representatives. In the past three years alone, $6.9 billion was recovered by 284,000 veterans. There were more than 75,000 favorable VA claims filed by the VFW-accredited service officers in 2014.
There were 7.6 million connections made between deployed service members and loved ones made possible by the VFW�s �Free Call Days.� VFW posts serve �welcome home� meals for service members recently back from combat, and they cover rent, utilities or groceries for struggling military families. The VFW has given $5.4 million in financial assistance to military families, about half of which is for basic housing needs. Its Unmet Needs Program has given out nearly 4,000 grants to about 2,000 military families equaling more than $2.5 million since 2004.
More than $1.5 million in scholarships have been awarded to about 425 veterans and service members in the past two years through the VFW�s �Sport Clips Help a Hero Scholarship.�
VFW members testified before Congress 30 times last year and have influenced every major legislative victory for veterans in the 20th and 21st centuries. To learn more about VFW programs and services see vfw.org.
There are nearly 3,700 VFW members in a dozen posts in Macomb County, and nearly 1.7 million VFW and VFW Auxiliary members in 6,731 VFW posts worldwide.
Have a meal at the VFW
The Big Breakfast at VFW Post 7573 at 35011 23 Mile Road, New Baltimore is 8 a.m. to noon, Feb. 7. Minimum donation is $6 per person, or $2 for children up to 10-years-old. World War II veterans eat for free. The menu includes eggs and omelets to order.
The post�s Lenten fish fry dinner schedule is: 5-7:30 p.m. Feb. 10 (Ash Wednesday) and all the following Fridays in February and March, including March 25, Good Friday. The cost is $8 per plate, or all-you-can eat for $10, and includes cod, french fries, coleslaw, rolls and dessert. Carry-outs are available. For information, call 586-725-7100.
Camp Lejeune water tainted
Some veterans who served 30 or more days at Camp Lejeune N.C. between 1953 and 1987 may be eligible for free VA health care. The new ruling covers those veterans who were exposed to contaminated water at the camp and who have been diagnosed with esophageal cancer, breast cancer, renal toxicity, female infertility, lung cancer, bladder cancer, hepatic steatosis, miscarriage, and neuro-behavioral effects.
National Guard and Reserve service members who trained at the base are also considered. Veterans who filed and were denied should file again. Any veteran who needs help completing a VA claim for their service can contact the VFW for assistance at 1-800-VFW-1899.
Send service club and veterans news to: Linda May at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or mail c/o The Macomb Daily, 19176 Hall Road, Clinton Township MI 48038. Phone 586-791-8116.
Money Metals Exchange, a national precious metals dealer recently ranked “Best in the USA,” has teamed up with the Sound Money Defense League to help qualified students pay for the ever-rising costs of higher education.
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Money Metals Exchange and the Sound Money Defense League will be awarding this scholarship to two incoming or current undergraduate students and two graduate students each year.
Judged Scholarship Award:
- Undergraduate Student First Place: $2,000
- Undergraduate Student Runner Up: $1,000
- Graduate Student First Place: $2,000
- Graduate Student Runner Up: $1,000
People's Choice Award:
Application Deadline: Application, resume, and essay must be submitted by September 30, 2018.
To apply for this scholarship, students should fill out the application form below, provide proof of current attendance at a high school, college, or university (by submitting, for example, a transcript) and upload their current resume and their essay. Essays should be roughly 1,000 words in length and should answer ONE of the following questions:
- How has the Federal Reserve System helped or hurt the American economy?
- Most economists, even those who support private property and free markets, think that money (or monetary services, or money and banking, etc.) is a special good that must be produced and controlled by the government. Do you agree or disagree, and why?
- How do you think the free market would handle money, if there were no government intervention of any kind?
- How could America best return to a gold or bi-metallic standard?
This scholarship will be open to high school seniors, undergraduate students, and graduate students with an interest in economics, specifically the tradition of the Austrian school. You DO NOT have to be an economics major to be eligible to receive this scholarship.
Essays will be reviewed by a blue ribbon committee of professors, economists, and executives of Money Metals Exchange and Sound Money Defense League. The panel will select two (2) undergraduate winners and two (2) graduate winners. All four (4) articles will be published on one or both organizations' websites. The four (4) winners will have the opportunity to win the People’s Choice Award by sharing their published article on social media (Facebook, Twitter). The winner will be chosen based on which article gets the most “shares” or “retweets” within fourteen (14) days of the announcement of the winners.
The blue-ribbon panel of judges for the 2018 scholarship to be unveiled soon!
The deadline to submit the application, resume, and essay is September 30, 2018.
For more information, please email scholarship [at] moneymetals.com
Also, follow @MoneyMetals and @SoundMoneyDef on Twitter for any updates or announcements.
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