2019-2020 National Scholarships Ambassador
Voice of Democracy / Patriot’s Pen: “What Makes America Great”
School is now in session for the 2019-2020 year. It’s time for you and your Post counterpart to visit schools and homeschool groups, and follow up with students, parents, and teachers to answer any questions they may have regarding the Patriot’s Pen and Voice of Democracy contests. You should also have sent requests to potential judges or know whom you plan to ask before October begins. Last, but not least, plan a recognition ceremony to acknowledge the participation of the students in these contests. Listed below are some ideas to accomplish this:
Follow up questions:
- Visit schools, homeschool student groups, church groups and youth groups.
- Update contact information on websites and share contest information on social media.
- Visit the businesses where you left flyers to determine the amount of interest.
- Libraries, fast food restaurants, malls, grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, and hair salons; wherever you posted the information.
- Reach out to the neighborhood associations and senior citizen groups. They may have questions from their children or grandchildren.
- Post a reminder of the important deadline of October 31, 2019, for entries to your Post.
- Monitor your own Post and Auxiliary website(s) and/or Facebook page(s) for questions.
Many questions may arise as you reach out to your community. Be sure to have the answers ready. If a question comes up you cannot answer, assure them that you will obtain the information and contact them with the answer.
When choosing judges remember:
- To include the contest requirements, deadlines and contact information at the time of the judging.
- Use an odd number of judges to avoid a tie.
- Secure a date and location for the judging.
- Avoid using Post or Auxiliary members. Reach out to your community for impartial judges.
- Begin planning how you will recognize the students who made your program successful.
- If possible, invite all participating students. Announce the winners at your event.
- Consider hosting a luncheon or dinner in their honor.
- Ask for permission to participate in a school awards forum.
- Determine the awards you are offering. The National Organization does not provide guidelines on the amount or kind of award your Post offers; it’s up to your Post.
- The VFW Store offers several items for Patriot’s Pen and Voice of Democracy that would be a great award for local-level participants and winners.
- Invite all who helped promote the contests. Include teachers, community leaders, businesses, clergy, and youth group leaders.
Everyone enjoys recognition for a job well done. In addition to honoring the winners, be sure to recognize all students who participated. If they did not place this year, they can enter until they are no longer eligible. Patriot’s Pen students finishing eighth grade can advance to the Voice of Democracy Contest in ninth grade.
Share your ideas! Please let me know how you plan to celebrate your students. One Post and Auxiliary presents their awards at a regularly scheduled student assembly. At that time, the students read their essays to those present. This Post chooses to recognize the winning students from that school in this manner for the maximum exposure to other students. This helps promote future contests to the students who are eligible to enter. It has proven to be successful in promoting participation over the years.
Continue to work with your communities and students while “Serving Our Veterans with Aloha!”