2015-2016 National Scholarships Ambassador
Scholarships: Deadlines. Deadlines. Deadlines.
The end of October is almost here and that means the November 1 entry deadline for the Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen contests is near! Please follow-up with the schools, students, teachers and parents you provided applications to; offer to pick up the student entries.
Post judging should be completed by November 15 and winners sent immediately to the District level by your VFW. Some VFW District Chairman may want the Post-winning entries by November 15; to be sure, defer this deadline to your VFW Post Chairman. Remember, this is a VFW program and we are to assist.
The 2015-2016 Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen Chairman’s Manual and contest score sheets can be found on the National Organization’s website, under “Programs,” and “Resources.” The manual contains helpful tips regarding judging these two contests. A few of the tips are listed below:
- Select anywhere from three to nine judges.
- Judges should be from outside your Post/Auxiliary.
- Choose community leaders from:
- Small Businesses
- Universities and/or Community Colleges
- Civic Groups (Kiwanis, Lions Club, Rotary, American Legion, etc.)
- Judges must not be in any way connected with any of the student participants.
- For Voice of Democracy, each judge needs to listen to the recording only and given a VFW score sheet with the following criteria:
- Originality (30 points)
- Content (35 points)
- Delivery (35 points)
- For Patriot’s Pen, each judge should be given a copy of the essay and a VFW score sheet with the following criteria:
- Theme Knowledge (30 points)
- Theme Development (35 points)
- Clarity of Ideas (35 points)
- For both contests, the essays and recordings should be identified to the judges by number to ensure the anonymity of the student.
- Judges should not discuss the essays or recordings during the judging process, and should not have any contact with the students. The judges’ decisions are always final.
Hospitality Tips: If your judging is hosted in the morning, you may want to serve coffee, juice and a breakfast snack. If judging is during a meal time, provide a light meal and soft drinks.
Remember it is crucial the VFW Auxiliary Chairman at each level work together with their VFW counterpart. These are VFW contests; however, Auxiliary members work extremely hard for this program, and working together will help ensure a successful outcome.
Begin planning now how you are going to recognize winners and acknowledge all of your participants. It’s extremely important to let all students know we appreciate their efforts in entering these contests.
- Is your VFW Auxiliary assisting the VFW in hosting an awards banquet or ceremony for participants? Not sure if there is an awards event planned? Ask! If nothing is planned, offer to help plan one!
- Notify your local media about the winners and/or your awards ceremony. Invite your local newspaper to cover your awards event; they love recognizing their local student’s efforts!
- Did a particular school or teacher provide a significant number of entries? Send a thank you note to that school and/or teacher and ask to present certificates at a school assembly.
- A simple thank you letter or note to all those who entered goes a long way.
Track, Track, Track
Do not forget to keep track of your VFW Auxiliary members’ participation. Take the time to jot down how many members helped with, and how much time was spent on one or both of these contests, including: distribution of brochures, selecting judges, setting up for judging and helping with the awards ceremony. This is extremely important when reporting to your Department’s Scholarship Chairman. Be sure YOU get the credit for the great work you do. Remember, every member, every hour, and every dollar reported rolls up to become next year’s VFW Auxiliary Fact Sheet that shows what great work this organization does. Your report matters!