The VFW Post 1672 and its auxiliary in New Milford recently presented awards to this year’s Patriot Pen Youth Essay Contest winners at Schaghticoke Middle School.

Teacher Keli Solomon uses the Patriot Pen Essay format every year as an assignment to her eighth-grade social studies and composition classes.

Her 24 students entered essays addressing the theme “The America I Believe In.”

This year’s winners are Kerith M. Bradshaw (first place, award and $100), daughter of Karen and Karl Bradshaw; and Matthew S.F. Dugan, son of Lisa and Colin Dugan, and Ryan Thomas Lull, son of Linda and Dominic Lull (second place).

Kerith's essay also won first place for VFW District #5.

She will receive an award from District #5 at its March meeting in New Milford.

In addition, Kerith received an additional award of $100 and a set of desk flags from the VFW Department at its annual Essay Contest Award Dinner at the Sheraton in Rocky Hill.

The contest and the Voice of Democracy, which has a deadline of Nov. 1, and Patriotic Art contests, which has a deadline of April 1, are offered annually with new themes each year to students who submit their entries to a VFW Post through their American school in the U.S. and around the world.

The National Veterans of Foreign Wars presents over $200,000 in awards and scholarships each year, with thousands of additional awards to students by local, district and department VFWs and auxiliaries.