The Patriot's Pen
by David L. Dyer
What is it? It is a nationwide youth essay competition sponsored by the VFW. It gives middle grade students the opportunity to write essays expressing their views on an annual patriotic theme. This is open to all registered students in grades six through eight.
There are four levels of competition in this contest with the ultimate national award being $5,000 and an all expense paid trip to Washington, for the winner and a parent or guardian. It begins at the local post level and that is where I come in. I was honored to be chosen post chairman for this event.
Our local winner advances to the district level and that winner goes on to the state and ultimately the national finals. There are monetary awards at each level. Those who enter must write in their own words a 300 – 400 word essay on an annual patriotic theme which this year is “What Freedom Means to me.” I am happy to announce we will be sending six winners to compete at the district level. How is this possible? Enter Mrs Susan Dusute.
Susan, an English teacher has been with the Grosse Ile Schools for eighteen years with the past nine at the Middle School. When she first heard of this VFW project she thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for her students to learn about patriotism. She volunteered to head this program.
For the past three years I have noticed the increase in the number of essays submitted by the Middle School. It couldn’t possibly get any better than this year. I asked Susan for a listing of the first and last names of all the participants to prepare the certificates. Each student who submitted an essay will receive a certificate that is well worth framing.
She handed me a list of each of her three classes. I took a moment to count them. The three of them added together totaled ninety two which is exactly the number of essays received. Yes, 100% of her students entered the contest. She must have a very special way of getting the message across.
When I discovered we could send one winner for each fifteen entrants and with the support of our VFW Post we decided to send six winners forward. During the first week of 2016 there will be a very special banquet for all the post winners. That is when the district winner will be announced.
I now take great pride in presenting our six winners. Each of them will receive a $100 first place award along with a participation certificate.
1. Jessica Schutt – Jessica is a repeat winner. She won 1st place a year ago as a 7th grader.
2. Abigail Long
3. Grace Tylutki
4. Jane Ottenbreit
5. Carly Zimmerman
6. Mitchell Lewis
I will close with these words: “Thank you Susan Dusute for your dedication and on behalf of our VFW Post 7310, I salute you.” firstname.lastname@example.org
*Ed Note: We chose to post David's article following the Patriot's Pen winners announcement in order to honor these outstanding young people and their outstanding educational professions, true mentors in education, English Teacher Susan Dusute and Principal David Tucker. - RB