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VFW Post 11508
Woodland Hills, CA

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Youth Essay

Patriot's Pen,

a youth essay writing contest, is a nationwide competition that gives students in grades 6, 7 and 8 the opportunity to write essays expressing their views on democracy. Last year, more than 75,000 students participated in the annual contest.

Contestants write a 300-400 word essay based on an annual patriotic theme. The first place winner receives a $10,000 savings bond and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington D.C. The top 46 national winners each receive a savings bond anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000. There are additional cash prizes at the Post, District and State contests.

The 2010-2011 theme is

Does Patriotism Still Matter?

The deadline is November 1, 2010.

Big National Prizes
Prizes include the various amounts of U.S. Savings Bonds listed below:

1st: $10,000 Bond
2nd: $8,000 Bond
3rd: $7,000 Bond

4th: $5,500 Bond, 5th: $5,000 Bond, 6th: $4,000 Bond, 7th: $3,500 Bond, 8-9th: $3,000 Bond, 10-11th: $2,500 Bond, 12-13th: $2,000 Bond, 14-15th: $1,500 Bond, 16-46th: $1,000 Bond

When is the deadline?
To qualify, all entries must be submitted to a sponsoring VFW Post by November 1, 2010.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) has again approved this contest for its National Advisory List of Contests and Activities.

How does the contest work?
The contest consists of four levels. The first level (entry) is sponsored by local VFW Posts. Post winners advance to the VFW District (regional) level where the one first place
winner is advanced to the VFW Department (state) level. The one first-place winner at the Department level is then advanced into the VFW National competition.
The winner from each Department (state) then competes for the national prizes.

Who can enter?
Patriot's Pen is open to 6th-, 7th- and 8th-grade students enrolled in public, private or parochial schools in the US, its territories or its possessions. Home-schooled students
also are eligible. Dependents of US military or civilian personnel in overseas schools can participate too. (Foreign exchange students and former winners that placed in the National finals are excluded from the contest.)
Conducted nationwide, this VFW sponsored youth essay competition gives students an opportunity to write essays expressing their views on democracy with the prospect
of winning US savings bonds. We invite you to join the more than 120,000 students who participated last year in this contest. The top 46 national winners all receive
at least a $1,000 savings bond. The first-place award is currently a $10,000 savings bond plus an all-expense paid trip to Washington, DC for the winner and a parent
or guardian.

How do I get started?
o Ask a teacher or youth group/club adult leader to supervise the Patriot's Pen writing competition.
o Contact a local VFW Post and indicate your interest in participating. (Links are at the bottom of this page.)
o Establish a contact person who is a member of that VFW Post or its Ladies Auxiliary.
o Make sure that your essay is submitted to the VFW Post before the contest deadline of Nov. 1, 2010.

How am I judged?
You will be judged on how well you understand, develop and present the theme. A positive approach is recommended to express your viewpoint.

Knowledge of the theme is worth 30 points: You must show a thorough knowledge of the theme in your work. Demonstrate you have researched the issue extensively.
Theme development is worth 35 points: Answer all relevant facts about the theme such as the who, what, where, when and why. Relate the theme to your own experiences.
Clarity of ideas is worth 35 points: Write your essay in an easy-to-understand format. Leave your reader with a clear understanding of your explanation of the theme.

What is the theme?
VFW's Commander-in-Chief annually chooses the year's theme. The 2010-11 theme is Does Patriotism Still Matter?

What are the rules?
o Essay length: 300-400 typewritten words.
o You must write your own essay.
o All essays should be typewritten in English with no color or graphics and cannot be less than 300 words or greater than 400 words in length.
(Essays under or over these word amounts will be eliminated.) Every word is counted regardless of length. The essay title (theme) or added footnotes do not contribute to the word count.

Deadline- The completed essay and entry form must be in the hands of the VFW Post Chairman by midnight Nov. 1, 2010.

In no way may contestants identify themselves within their essay. Do not put your name on your essay.
The entry form is your essay's cover sheet.
Secure the Official Student Entry Form with a staple or other fastener on top of your essay.
Contestants are allowed to enter only once (one Post competition). Contestants found in violation of this rule will face elimination from the competition and will be required to return any and all prize money awarded or received.
The essay must be a contestant's original work and a product of the contestant's own thinking.
The approach to the Patriot's Pen theme should be positive and clearly focused. Poetry is not acceptable. Quotations may be used sparingly if plainly identified
wherever used. A contestant's teacher, counselor or parent may check the essay for punctuation, grammar and/or spelling, but the content must remain the contestant's.
Contestants will be judged on the basis of their essay alone and are not required to present the essay orally.
All essays become the property of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The VFW retains non-exclusive rights to use your essay and likeness in the promotion and execution of the organization's programs and activities.
Note: All entries must be submitted to a VFW Post competition. If you have difficulty identifying a sponsoring Post in your area, call the Patriot's Pen national office at: (816) 756-3390, ext. 220 or



Local Students (San Fernando Valley, CA) may contact our Post chairperson for an entry package.

Read last year's national winning entry

Download information:

Student participation Rules and entry form (for local students) (PDF file)
Teacher's pamphlet for School use-- (PDF file)

Student participation information and entry form-- from VFW National (PDF file)
        (Requires the Acrobat plug in)    


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