Connor Wiik took first place in the Voice of Democracy essay contest sponsored by Milbank VFW Post 3486 and VFW Auxiliary 3486. Alyssa Feather was the second-place winner. Lilly Dreis penned the third-place essay. “Why is the Veteran Important?” was the theme for 2023.
Wiik’s essay advanced to the district level with the potential to continue on to the state level. The state winner received an all-expenses paid trip to the national event in Washington, D.C. Scotland Stewart, a sophomore at Franklin County High School in Winchester, Tennessee, was selected as the national first-place winner and received a $35,000 scholarship. The second-place winner, Siri Corson, a junior at Fillmore Central High School in Harmony, Minnesota, was awarded the $21,000 Charles Kuralt Memorial Scholarship.
Addison Brown was the author of the winning essay in the local Patriot’s Pen contest designed for sixth through eighth graders. This year, students submitted essays on the theme “My Pledge to Our Veterans.”
Ryland Wendland earned second place. Andrew Karels was named third. All are seventh graders. Honorable mention awards went to Keaton Johnson, also a seventh grader, and Kylynn Schwandt, a sixth grader.
All of Milbank’s top essays in the Patriot’s Pen division advanced to the district competition. The district winners continued on to the state contest, and the state winner received an all-expenses paid trip to Washington D.C. Leighton Peters, a seventh grader from Rice lake, Wisconsin, was chosen as the national winner. She received a $5000 scholarship for her essay. The Patriot’s Pen second place winner, Nolan Green, of Monticello, Minnesota, received a $4,000 award.
Locally, the top three places in each of the contests received a medal, a certificate, and a monetary prize. Honorable mentions received a certificate and a monetary prize.
Established in 1947, the Voice of Democracy has been the Veterans of Foreign War’s (VFW’s) premier scholarship program. Students compete by writing and recording an audio essay on an annual patriotic theme. Nationally, over $2 million are awarded in educational scholarships and incentives through this program.
Winners of the 2022-2023 Voice of Democracy for the Milbank area include: 1st Place: Connor Wiik, 2nd Place: Alyssa Feather, 3rd Place: Lilly Dreis
Winners of the 2022-2023 Patriot’s Pen for the Milbank area include: 1st Place: Addison Brown (7th grader), 2nd Place: Rylan Wendland (7th grader), 3rd Place: Andrew Karels (7th grader), Honorable Mentions: Keaton Johnson (7th grader) and Kylynn Schwandt (6th grader)
Submitted Photos: Top- Connor Wiik and Lilly Dreis. Bottom Photo-back row left to right, Keaton Johnson, Kylynn Schwandt. Front row, Addison Brown, Rylan Wendland and Andrew Karels.