1st Place, State VFW Voice of Democracy Student Audio-Essay Contest  

Laveen homeschooler Annabel Peltzer, 15, was awarded first prize at the Veterans of Foreign Wars state banquet for their annual Voice of Democracy student audio-essay contest. This year’s theme was “American History: Our Hope for the Future.” Annabel’s speech advanced through three different levels before being chosen the state winner and she earned $2,500 in prize money. She went on to represent Arizona at a five-day, all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete against 53 other states and U.S. territories. Annabel placed 11th and was awarded a $3,000 scholarship. Over 33,000 essays were submitted.

In June the VFW also sent national winners to Valley Forge, PA for a week-long civics and leadership training with the Freedoms Foundation. The VFW established VOD in 1947 to provide students grades 9-12 with the opportunity to express democratic ideas and principles.

You can listen to Annabel’s speech online along with the rest of the national winners at VFW.org/VOD and click “Listen to the winning essay.”

2nd Place, National Fleet Reserve Association Essay Contest  

Annabel also competed in the Fleet Reserve Association’s “Americanism Essay Contest” and advanced through several state and regional levels before placing second in the nation in her age category. The theme of the contest was “What Patriotism Means to Me” and Annabel’s essay was awarded over $1,800 in prize money. She placed third at nationals two years earlier. The FRA represents the interests of the U.S. Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard community before the U.S. Congress and it sponsors the annual contest to promote the spirit of Americanism and patriotism among our country’s youth.