Pictured, from left, are Tim Meinzen, PHHS journalism teacher, and Shrista Morris' family, Linda Marshall, Morris, and Laurie and Derrick Cook. Shrista tied for first place in this year's Voice of Democracy contest and read her speech aloud Erin Tierney/The Chronicle


CRESWELL – As part of the National VFW scholarship program, Creswell VFW 4039 last weekend awarded Creswell and Pleasant Hill students for penning admirable Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen essays, some of which were read aloud at the ceremony.
In a two-way tie are Voice of Democracy first-place winners Jasmin Duckworth, a Pleasant Hill High School senior and Shrista Morris, a PHHS junior.
Patriot's Pen first-place winners are Tylyn R. Bowles, an eighth grader at Creswell Middle School (CMS) as the Cottage Grove Post winner, and Lexie Smith, an eighth grader at CMS. Second place is awarded to Ava Koch, a sixth grader at CMS.
Teachers of the Year are Heather Sprague of PHHS, Kendra Anderson of CMS and Gary Jones of Creswell High School.
High school students are asked to write and record an essay on a patriotic theme, competing nationally for more than $2.1 million in college scholarships. The theme of the essays this year is ”What Makes America Great.”
Patriot's Pen is a contest for middle schoolers, in which the national winner receives a $5,000 award and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington D.C., where they tour the city. Winners for both contests also receive prizes at the Post and State levels.