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Middle High School VFW Essay Contest Winners Announced

Former Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #5551Commander Herald Keesee and his wife Karen were on hand during the Thursday, January 12th presentation of the Lucerne Valley Middle High School winners of the VFW’s annual essay contest.
The Patriot’s Pen competition is a written essay competition for Middle School students. This year’s theme is “My Pledge to Our Veterans.” This year there were 18 submitted entries from the Middle School, according to Mr. Keesee. The winners and their prize are:
1st place - Isabella S. McCuistion ($300)
2nd place - Xorai Perez ($250)
3rd place - Brody Curtis ($200)
Established in 1947, the VFW’s Voice of Democracy audio-essay program provides high school students with the opportunity to express themselves in regards to a democratic and patriotic-themed recorded essay.  The 2022-23 theme is “Why is the Veteran Important?” To compete in the Voice of Democracy contest, High School students must submit a recording of their oratorical composition three-to-five minutes in length. This year nine LVHS students submitted entries, Mr. Keesee said.
The winners and their prizes are:
1st place - Meilani N. Nguyen ($300)
2nd place - Emilia Daniels ($250)
3rd place - Caitlyn M. Rodriguez ($200)
Next, the entries of the six VFW Post #551 winners will be considered at the District level. That winner of District will then head to the VFW state level. The first-place winner at the state level is then advanced into the VFW national competition. The Patriot’s Pen grand prize is $5,000. The grand prize scholarship for the Voice of Democracy is $35,000.
Mr. Keesee also announced that Lucerne Valley Elementary School teacher Mrs. Hall was nominated for the VFW’s Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher program. 
“Great work for everyone doing this,” Superintendent Peter Livingston said. School Board members also commended the Keesees and the competition winners.
Patriot's Pen VFW
From left, Superintendent Peter Livingston, Jessica Risler (board president), Tom Courtney (board member), Meilani N. Nguyen (1st place Voice of Democracy), Brody Curtis (3rd place Patriot’s Pen), Isabella S. McCuistion (1st place Patriot’s Pen), Caitlyn M. Rodriguez (3rd place Voice of Democracy), Jason Hansen (board member), Jim Harvey (board member), Herald Keesee (former commander VFW Post #5551). Photo by Doug Beaton