Faith Maurais, a student at Spruce Mountain High School in Jay, sings the National Anthem during a 9/11 remembrance service in Livermore Falls’ Union Park Saturday morning, Sept. 11, 2021. She recently won the VFW National Anthem Singing Contest for this district. File photo/Livermore Falls Advertiser

JAY — Veterans of Foreign Wars, Frank L. Mitchell Post 3335 announces the 2021 local winners of the “Patriot’s Pen” Essay Competition. Local students in the Jay/Livermore/Livermore Falls area submitted essays expressing their views on an annual patriotic theme. The 2021 theme was “How Can I Be A Good American?”.

Receiving first place was Zoe Groomes, second place Gracie McCourt, and third place Zen Michael Wakefield-Dostie. More than 20 local students submitted their essays, and were independently judged by local city leaders Aaron Miller from Livermore; Amanda Allen from Livermore Falls; and Shilo Lafreniere from Jay. Judging is based on how well the applicants understand, develop, and present the annual theme in their essay.

Post Commander Don Frechette commented that this year’s essays were very well written and it was a pleasure to see the largest number of entries by local students in many years.

“Its an honor to have so many students submit a heartfelt view on what they believe it means to be a “Good American”,” he said. “With the challenges of the past year with COVID protocols, this is one way the VFW reaches out on a local and National level to students.”

The VFW is very proud of the youth’s great submissions and moving thoughts on their role as an American, Frechette said. Teacher Denise Acritelli from Spruce Mountain Middle school is especially thanked for her coordinating efforts with the students to make the contest a success again this year, he noted.

The Patriot’s Pen Competition is open to all sixth, seventh and eighth grade students, and no family history of military background is required. A written essay of 300 to 400 words is submitted to the local VFW Post. Last year, over 138,000 students Nationally submitted essays.

Prizes begin at the local post level, with VFW Post 3335 of Jay awarding $75, $50, and $25 cash awards to the first, second and third place winners of each contest, to be awarded later this month. The first-place winner moves up to the district level of competition, and those winners proceed to the state and national levels.

At the national level, first place is $5,000 paid directly to the student. Preferably it will be used towards future education, but can be spent as the student chooses. The second and third place national prizes include checks of $4,000 and $3,500, respectively. Prizes for the middle-school National competition go all the way through sixth place. Over $55,000 in total prizes were awarded.

Also announced by the VFW Post Auxiliary, was the 2021 local winner for singing the National Anthem. This year’s winner was Faith Maurais, a student at Spruce Mountain High School who will also be recognized later this month.

In addition to winning locally, Faith advanced to State recognition. The Red, White, and Blue annual contest is open to youth in grades K-12. The Star-Spangled Banner must be recorded, and the video is submitted to the local VFW Auxiliary. The entries are judged on vocal ability, mastery of lyrics, originality, and interpretation and entertainment value.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: