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Kallie Zieman, a junior at Jefferson High School in Alexandria, won the 2012-2013 Voice of Democracy essay-audio competition for the 5th District and was named runner-up at the Voice of Democracy state level. (Contributed photo)

Zieman named Voice of Democracy runner-up at state level

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Local high school junior Kallie Zieman attended the Minnesota Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Ladies Auxiliary annual mid-winter banquet on January 26 at the Marriot in Minneapolis.

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Zieman was the winner of the 2012-13 Voice of Democracy (VOD) essay-audio competition for the 5th District, composed of posts and auxiliaries from Alexandria, Osakis, Benson, Willmar and Appleton. She attended the banquet with eight other district winners from around the state. It was the final step before the national level.

Zieman was named runner-up for the 2012-2013 VOD state level. She will be able to enter again next year as a senior in the hopes of making it to the next level and competing at the national level for the 2013-2014 year.

A junior at Jefferson High School in Alexandria, Zieman began her journey in 6th grade when she entered the Patriot's Pen essay contest the first year she was eligible. She competed with other 6th through 8th graders from around the area and was selected as one of the top winners locally.

Over the next two years, she continued to enter the Patriot's Pen contest and had the honor of making it to the district level of the competition each year.

She moved on to the Voice of Democracy essay competition in 9th grade and was selected the local winner a number of times, receiving monetary and other awards through the VFW Post and Auxiliary in Alexandria and even at the district level.

Annually, more than 100,000 students nationwide from grades 6-8 enter the Patriot's Pen contest. Students draft a 300-400 word essay expressing their views based on an annual patriotic theme.

One first-place winner from each state competes to win one of 46 national awards totaling $46,000. The national first-place winner wins $5,000 and an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C.

The VOD program, established in 1947, is open to students in grades 9-12 who are enrolled in a public, private or parochial high school or home study program in the U.S. and its territories.

Each year, nearly 40,000 high school students from across the country enter. The national first-place winner receives a $30,000 scholarship. Other national scholarships range from $1,000 to $16,000. The first-place winner from each state wins an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C.

The Patriot's Pen and the VOD competitions can be started now by students who are eligible. The deadline for submissions for the 2013-2014 program year is November 1.

The theme for the 2013-2014 VOD contest is "Why I'm Optimistic About our Nation's Future," and the 2013-2014 Patriot's Pen theme is "What Patriotism Means to Me."

Entries and guidelines can be downloaded at www.vfw.org or picked up at the local VFW post, 1102 3rd Avenue East, Alexandria.

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