Special to the Tribune by Jim Haycraft VFW 12075

VFW Post 12075 recently honored winners in two youth essay contests.

The competition was fierce with a first-place tie in the Post's Voice of Democracy writing competition. The national VFW Voice of Democracy contest provides students in grades 9-12 the opportunity to explore democratic ideals and principles through audio essays. The first-place winner receives a $30,000 scholarship and a trip to Washington D.C.

Local posts judge entries and then the best proceed to district judging and those finalists move on to be judged among the top submissions from posts across the country for the $30,000 scholarship.

For Post 12075, Thomas Salazar and Shelby Lyles tied for first place. Both papers were exceptional to say the least and the parents of both children would be proud of their efforts.

Each year more than 100,000 students in grades 6-8 enter VFW's Patriot's Pen youth essay contest. The first-place winner from each state competes to win one of 46 national awards totaling $46,000. The national first-place winner wins $5,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington D.C.

The Post 12075 Patriot's Pen essay competition, while stiff, was not quite as close as the Voice of Democracy competition. Lauren Lyles' paper was judged best while last year's winner, Christian McConnell, finished second.

Due to the size of the post, all four entries were forwarded to the district for further judging.

This is the first year the post had home-schooled students enter the contests and also the first time two sisters took top awards.

Lyles was subsequently selected as the first-place winner in district competition and 21st in state-level competition. This is the first time the post has had a contestant advance to state level. The winners and their families were honored during the Post's annual Christmas dinner. VFW Post 12075 serves the Atascocita, Humble and Kingwood areas and is located at 2755 Chestnut Ridge Drive in Kingwood.

Cutline: Lauren Lyles receives her award from Post Commander Lisa Ward.

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