Mt. Pleasant VFW post
names essay contest winners
By Linda Petersen
Jan. 11, 2018
MT. PLEASANT—Several local youth were recently recognized as winners in two essay contests sponsored by Mt. Pleasant Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 9276.
On Dec. 22, Abigail Clawson, 16, of Fairview and a junior at North Sanpete High School, received the first-place prize of a $300 scholarship check in the post’s Voice of Democracy audio essay contest.
For the competition, participants submitted a three-to-five-minute recorded essay on this year’s theme: “American History: Our Hope for the Future.”
In early December, Abigail represented the Mt. Pleasant post at the district level where her entry went up against those of more than 100 other contenders.
At district, she took first place with a unanimous vote and qualified to be one of six students from across Utah competing for the state title. The state winner will be decided later this month and will be recognized at an awards banquet.
The state winner will move on to nationals to compete for a $30,000 grand prize scholarship and an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C.
At the post level, Shelby Ison took second place and received $225, and Thomas DeGroff took third place and received $150. Both are seniors at North Sanpete High.
In a second VFW essay competition, called Patriot’s Pen, for grades six to eight, four sixth-grade students were chosen as winners by the post.
Luke Olson and Ivan Ayala, students at Mt. Pleasant Elementary, and Jordan Christiansen and Owen Drew, Spring City Elementary students, each received $100.
Although none of the four advanced beyond the district level, Post Scholarship Committee Chair Jaime Rodriguez said they represented the post well.
Historically, Post 9276 has sponsored both competitions but in recent years had not done so. Three years ago, current post commander David Tucker started it back up, and last year he turned the program over to Rodriguez.
Rodriguez, a Marine Corps veteran who served a tour in Afghanistan, sees the essay competitions as a good way to give back to the community and as a financial incentive to help students understand the principles of democracy.
“Most of us in the post can’t actively serve now, but this is one of the ways we can give back to the community and ensure that the VFW helps promote patriotism and maintain the values and traditions we fought to protect,” he said.
Rodriguez said sponsoring programs like the scholarship essay contest helps keep the post relevant.
He would like to see more Sanpete students participate and is especially appreciative of North Sanpete High School teacher Ben Cox and Mt. Pleasant Elementary School teacher Kathy Dimick and Spring City Elementary School teacher Nancy Allred who encourage their students to enter the competition.
“I first learned about the contest a few years ago, and we had a student who placed then, so I encouraged more to participate the last two years,” Cox said.
He added, “I think encouraging students to reflect on their country, their freedom and those who fought to preserve both is critical to their becoming good citizens and good people, and giving these essay contest winners the opportunity to go and read their essays to the veterans is a tremendous opportunity for them.”