New Richmond/St. Croix County Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Memorial Post 10818 is proud to announce the Post winners of its 2018-19 Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen youth scholarship competitions.

Every year, the VFW holds an audio-essay contest for 9-12 grade students, including homeschooled students. Each student has a chance of winning the grand prize of a $30,000 scholarship from the VFW. This year the Voice of

Democracy included students from three high schools in St. Croix County submitting their audio essay to this year's

theme, "Why My Vote Matters." VFW Post 10818 awards the Voice of Democracy winners a first, second and third

place with scholarships of $1,000, $750, and $500. Haylee Lawrence, a senior at Hudson High School, took first

place and the $1,000 award.

The second-place winner, Madissen Lawrence, was awarded $750 for her audio essay. Lawrence is also a senior at

Hudson High School. Both Haylee and Madissen are twin sisters.

For 24 years, the Patriot's Pen essay program has fostered patriotism by allowing students in grades 6-8 the

opportunity to examine America's history, along with their own experiences in modern American society based on

an annual theme. The Patriot's Pen has a grand prize of $5,000 from the VFW. VFW Post 10818 awards the Patriot's

Pen winners a first, second, and third place with scholarships of $300, $250, and $200. The 2018-2019 first-place

winner is eighth-grader Claire Pommier from St. Croix Central Middle School. She received a $300 award due to her

winning essay on this year's theme, "Why I Honor the American Flag."

The second-place winner is eighth-grader Grace Louise Gray, from New Richmond Middle School. She received a

$250 award, while third-place winner eighth-grader Natalia Drill, also from New Richmond Middle School, will

receive a $200 prize. Nearly 130,000 students participate in the competition annually.

First place winners Haylee Lawrence and Claire Pommier advanced to the district level for judging in their

respective competitions, representing VFW Post 10818 and St. Croix County. They both placed second in the

District which consists of 32 VFW Posts.

Our Post also awarded Duane Krueger, a 6-12 grade teacher in Frederic, with the VFW Post 10818 Teacher of the Year Award. He received a $250 award to use towards enhancing the classroom experience and enriching his students' lives. The VFW Teacher of the Year award program was enacted in 1999 as a way to identify and recognize America's best educators who instill a sense of national pride in students by teaching citizenship education topics regularly and promoting America's history and traditions effectively. The program continues to exceed expectations, and program administrators expect the number of participants will continue to grow each year.

Our Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen programs are a very sacred part of our organization. We believe our

nation's future lies in the hands of America's youth, and if we empower our youth and demonstrate how to honor,

respect and show compassion for their fellow man and their country, not only will they have a greater sense of

patriotism, they'll become better citizens and greater leaders for future generations. Our 2019 contest will be

announced between May and June. We look forward to seeing next years participants.