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Students share their voice

The Alexandria VFW and Women's Auxiliary announced that Kallie Zieman, an 8th grader at Discovery Middle School (DMS) in Alexandria, and Taylor Score, a 9th grader, were the top recipients in the nationally sponsored democracy programs.

• Zieman took first place honors in the Patriots Pen essay challenge with her 300- to 400-word essay on the theme, "When is the right time to honor our military heroes?" There were 47 participants, grades 6 to 8, who competed in this essay challenge.

Carl Branch and Rebecca Mateer, 7th graders at DMS, rounded out the top three in the list of finalists. The national award for the Patriots Pen challenge is a trip to Washington, D.C. and a $10,000 savings bond.

• Score took first place in the Voice of Democracy contest. The competitors in the audio competition for students in grades 9 to 12 were asked to record a three- to five-minute speech addressing the theme, "Does America still have heroes?" The national award for the Voice of Democracy is a $30,000 scholarship and a trip to Washington, D.C.

Zieman and Score were honored at the VFW Auxiliary Women's meeting in December and they were awarded $600 in cash prizes.

The Patriots Pen and Voice of Democracy programs are annual competitions sponsored by the VFW and Women's Auxiliary. The purpose of the programs is to acknowledge and award students, nationwide, who promote and display patriotism.