Bay Village VFW holds essay contest

Bay Village VFW Post 9693 Commander Fred Green with the winners of this year's essay contest, Sarah Brumagin, left, and Carolyn Carter.

Every year VFW Post 9693 sponsors an essay contest for junior high ("Patriot's Pen") and high school students ("Voice of Democracy"). The topic changes every year for each contest. The subject of the 2017 Voice of Democracy competition is "My Responsibility to America." Due to many reasons, the Post had not received entries for many years.

This year, Ms. Colleen Lanning, an English teacher at BHS, learned of this competition and encouraged her class to participate. Two VOD essays were submitted to the Post by the Nov. 1 deadline.

Ms. Lanning worked closely with VFW Senior Vice Commander John Stewart to process and define the contest after many years of non-participation. As the Commander, I assisted from a distance. Both essays and accompanying vocal presentations were reviewed by Ms. Lanning, Mr. Stewart, and myself.

The two essays were from Ms. Sarah Brumagin and Ms. Carolyn Carter, both BHS seniors. Each essay was truly excellent and worthy of further consideration. Both vocal presentations were not only professionally delivered, they were delivered in the context of the perspective of their essay.  

The judging process was very difficult, but in the end, only one could be submitted. The winner was Carolyn Carter. As the first-place winner, Carolyn will be presented with a check for $150 and her entry was provided for further review at the District 7 level and if selected, a state and national competition are possible. For second place, Sarah will receive a check for $100.

Carolyn's essay addressed the lack of deeper knowledge of issues and perspectives of her generation and others in a time or sound bites and Tweets. She talked about her responsibility to encourage those around her to spend time to understand the differences in perspective and form educated opinions.

"Due to the contest, I was led to think more deeply about my role in America as well as the roles of my peers," said Carolyn. "Through writing the essay, I was able to further my passion for America and government as well as learn more and develop a bigger appreciation for those fighting and who fought for the freedom I am able to experience and enjoy today."

Sarah's essay focused on respect and empathy for others. She suggested that understanding and discussion, not divisiveness, should be the basis of communication. After a very negative political year from all sides, we can all respect this approach.

“The Voice of Democracy scholarship competition was such an enjoyable experience that I was lucky to be a part of," Sarah said. "As one of the participants in this essay contest, I can honestly say it was the most fun I’ve had writing an essay. The prompt “Your Responsibility to America” was extremely interesting to write about, considering it was given during all of the 2016 election chaos. This competition was a fun way to creatively show my perspective on the responsibilities that myself, and others, have towards our country.”

Both of these topics are right on the mark for our current society and the way we collect and process information and interact. This process is changing daily, and both responses bring hope for our future generations, a core goal of the VOD program..

The contest results were announced as a surprise via video at BHS with Carolyn, Sarah, Mr. Stewart, Ms. Lanning, Principal Jason Martin, and myself. The video was presented to the entire school at a home room.

If Carolyn is chosen to be honored by VFW DIstrict 7, additional information will provided. Please join us in wishing her the best of luck!

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Volume 8, Issue 24, Posted 9:58 AM, 12.13.2016