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Brewster Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 672 announced the winners of its 2011-2012 school year scholarship programs. An awards ceremony will take place in early 2012, with each finalist receiving a check and a plaque for their participation. In addition, the student’s entries will be submitted to the VFW’s Putnam County Council for the next round of judging. Students that advance all the way to the national level can receive a sizeable award towards their college education.
The Patriots Pen written essay contest is for sixth, seventh and eighth-graders. This year’s theme was, “Are You Proud of Your Country?” Out of 20 contestants, the winners this year were Caleb Smith, a home-schooled eighth grader from Hurley, and Lauren Craft, a Henry H. Wells sixth-grade student from Brewster.
The Voice of Democracy (VOD) audio essay contest is for ninth, tenth and eleventh-graders. This year’s theme was “Is There Pride in Serving in Our Military?” Out of seven contestants, the winner this year was home-schooled tenth-grader Ian Smith. Interestingly, Ian was the VOD winner last year as well, and he is the older brother of Caleb, this year’s Patriots Pen competition winner.
Local residents active in the community were invited to be judges, and the judges convened at the Post during one of the VFW’s recent Sunday breakfast fundraisers to review and rate the submissions. Judging is ‘blind’ — meaning the judges do not know the name, school or hometown of the contestants — and each judge scores each submission independently. The scores are then tallied by the scholarship committee chairperson to determine the winners.
The judges for this school year’s competition were Josie Anderek, Robert Lund and Linda Lund — all very active members of the local community. Josie is a past president of the Brewster VFW Post 672 Ladies Auxiliary. She teaches fourth grade CCD classes at St. Lawrence O'Toole, and visits residents at Putnam Ridge Nursing Home. Linda and Robert Lund are both board members of the Putnam County Land Trust, and have been active in Scouting and NJROTC. All three of the judges are volunteers with the Board of Elections.