The Hastings’ Lyle Russell VFW Post 1210 is again hosting the annual Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen Essay Contests in the Hastings area. This is a great opportunity for students to challenge their written or verbal skills! Local winners will receive cash awards and a chance to compete at the State and National levels. Patriot’s Pen winners could earn up to $5,000 and Voice of Democracy winners will have a chance to compete for a $30,000 scholarship and an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. The Patriot’s Pen essay contest encourages young minds in the 6th through 8th grades to 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. The 2022-2023 theme is “My Pledge to Our Veterans”. The Voice of Democracy, a 3 to 5-minute essay placed on an audio CD or flash drive, is open to all students in 9th through 12th grade, and the 2022-2023 theme is “America: Why is the Veteran Important?”. Student participants are asked to submit their entry along with a completed entry form to their school coordinator after the start of the school year by October 31. They will then be forwarded to Post 1210 for post judging. Points of Contact for ISD 200 in the Middle School is Megan Latch, Counseling Office, and at the High school, students should contact Jody Geib in the Career Office. Students at SEAS should see their appropriate teacher. Teachers, students, and parents can view previous winner submissions and obtain additional information by visiting the VFW website. For additional information contact VFW Post 1210 at 651-437-8231 or email VFW1210@gmail.com.