Brandt wins Voice of Democracy contest

Lexi Brandt from Hill City High School was recognized by Custer VFW Post 3442 as this year’s Voice of Democracy winner.
VFW Post 3442 scholarship chair Corey Virtue said that in the organization’s Voice of Democracy contest, Brandt has taken first place at the post, district and state level. She will now go to Washington, D.C., March 2 to compete against 49 other students for a chance to win up to $35,000 in scholarships.
Brandt was tasked with delving into democracy, addressing the various attributes, for her essay following the 2023-24 theme, “What are the Greatest Attributes of Our Democracy?”
Each year, students from across the nation take part in two competitions held by VFWs in hopes of advancing from local competitions to state and national contests.
These contests are open to any students that are enrolled in public or private schools, as well as those youths that learn through homeschooling and according to Virtue, all students are invited and encouraged to participate.
“You don’t have to have a connection to the VFW to take part in these programs,” Virtue said. “Any and all students can enter these contests for a chance to earn some money toward schooling.”
The Patriot’s Pen Contest offers an opportunity for middle school students to express their views on an annual patriotic theme. Open to sixth, seventh and eighth grades, participants can tie together America’s past with modern-day experiences, as they express their views in a 300-400-word essay.
Each year, over 68,000 students compete in the contest, in hopes of becoming the national winner, receiving a $5,000 all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., Virtue said. The first-place winner from each state advances to the national competition and will earn a minimum of $500 at that level.
High school students in grades ninth through 12th are encouraged to take part in the annual Voice of Democracy contest by submitting an audio-essay of three to five minutes in length.
The VFW revealed that each year, more than 25,000 high schoolers across the nation enter the contest in hopes of claiming their portion of more than $2 million in educational scholarships and awards.
State first-place winners receive an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., where they will have the opportunity to tour the city and will be honored by the VFW, along with a minimum $1,000 scholarship, according to Virtue.

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