L-r are: SCMS Principal Devona Smith, teacher Sharon Shadrick, Josie Boynton, Karly McDowell, Tom Egleston, Jarett Pavon, Birchie Moore, Alisha Miller, James Seals, Kiley Elliott, Leah Holbrook, Taylor Thompson, and Zachary Zimmerman.
March 8, 2019 – On Wednesday, March 6, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post #5772 presented awards to nine students at Sequatchie County Middle School (SCMS) who participated in the annual Patriot's Pen program.
Leah Holbrook won top honors for her essay on the topic of “Why I Honor The American Flag.” She was presented with a $50 check and a framed copy of her entry, along with the medallion and certificate that all nine of the young writers received.
(Read Leah Holbrook's entry here.)
Other finalists in this year's competition were: Josie Boynton, Kiley Elliott, Karly McDowell, Alisha Miller, Jarett Pavon, Taylor Thompson, Anzlee Yawn, and Zachary Zimmerman.
VFW Sr. Vice Commander Birchie Moore, Jr., Vice Commander James Seals, and Quartermaster Tom Egleston recognized the students before the SCMS student body.
“Members of the post are amazed each year at the quality of the essays and the depth that some of the student's take them,” Egleston told students. “These essays bring a lot of credit to the students of SCMS, and they should be proud of the Americanism they show each year."
The Patriot's Pen essay program is a nationwide contest sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and is open to all middle school students. The VFW assigns a theme each year, and participating students write a 300-word essay on that theme.
Locally, the program is overseen by SCMS writing lab teacher Sharon Shadrick, who reviews submissions from writing lab students in grades 6-8, choosing those she considers the best. Then those essays go through a blind selection process by a panel of judges, who pick the best 9-10 to submit to VFW Post #5772 for review and judging.
After a committee of three post officers review each submitted essay, one is chosen as the essay that explains the theme most closely. The post then forwards all essays submitted to them to their district, and the district then chooses one from among those to send on to Nashville to be considered for the state competition.
“It's an honor to be involved in this program and read the excellent essays that students turn out year after year," Sr. Vice Commander Moore said.
Seals, who is this year's Patriot's Pen program coordinator, said, "It was my first time being involved in this program, and I am very impressed with the depth and quality of the submitted essays. These kids really have a deep understanding of what Americanism is all about".
The VFW is the nation's oldest veterans service organization, having been founded by veterans from the Spanish-American War. It is open to veterans who have served in an area where they were awarded a Campaign Ribbon.
The organization serves as an advocate for veterans rights and communicates with members of Congress and the Veterans Administration (VA) on the needs of veterans and their families.
Post #5772 was founded in 1946 by returning WWII veterans and has been working in the community ever since. Last year, it helped coordinate a water and T-shirt drive for veterans at the VA hospital in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
VFW Post #5772 meets on the third Tuesday of each month at the American Legion Hall on Fredonia Road, starting at 6 p.m.
L-r: Teacher Sharon Shadrick, VFW Quartermaster Tom Egleston, Sr. Vice Commander Birchie Moore, and Jr. Vice Commander James Seals.