Murphy wins VFW 'Voice of Democracy' essay contest, advances to Districts
Photo by Patricia KellerJillian Bennett receives a medal from VFW Commander Bill Johnson for her third place win in the annual "Voices of Democracy" essay contest.
By Patricia Keller WEST MILFORD — Three West Milford high school students won this's year VFW's "Voice of Democracy" contest and received their awards last month at the Jan. 23 Board of Education meeting. Kelsey Murphy won first place with her essay within this year's theme "American History: Our Hope for the Future." The Veterans of Foreign War’s “Voice of Democracy” program was established in 1947 to provide high school students the opportunity to express democratic ideas and principles. The program is open to students in high school, and are enrolled in a public, private, or parochial high school, or home study program in the United States and its territories. On Jan. 23, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Alex Anemone introduced the district’s Supervisor of History and Social Sciences, Grades K-12, Oliver Pruksamukul, at the Board of Education meeting, to speak about the Veterans of Foreign Wars annual “Voice of Democracy” essay contest. He introduced members of the West Milford VFW Post 7198 and present awards to West Milford High School students that placed in the top three out of more than 70 submissions for the local VFW contest. Students first enter the contest at the local VFW Post level each fall. The students create their essays and record an audio version. The recording must be at least three minutes long, but no longer than five minutes. A committee judges the essays based on the following criteria provided by the VFW: Originality (30 points): “Treatment of the theme should show imagination and human interest”; Content (35 points): “Clearly express your ideas in an organized manner. Fully develop your theme and use transitions to move smoothly from one idea to the other;” Delivery (35 points): “Speak in a clear and credible manner.” Bill Johnson, VFW Post 7198 commander, and other VFW officers announced the West Milford winners, and awarded them each with a certificate, a pin, a medal, and cash prizes from the local VFW. The winners were: First place, Kelsey Murphy Second place, Timothy Magasic Third place, Jillian Bennett. Following the awards presentation, Murphy read her winning essay aloud to the public and the school board. The winning students’ essays (one winner for every 15 entries from each Post received) advances to District Competition, and then one District winner advances to the state (Department) competition. According to the VFW contest website (http://njvfw.org/community-2/youth-and-education/vod-contest), the first-place winner from each state’s VFW Department wins a minimum scholarship of $1,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. They compete there in the National finals competition on March 3 through 7. The first prize award for the National competition is a $30,000-scholarship. Other national scholarships awarded range from $1,000-$16,000.