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VFW shows education support

By By Lee “Lavan” Martin
The Atmore Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 7016 announced this week the continuation of its Veterans in School Programs for School Year 2006-07. VFW veterans believe in educational opportunities for students and in honoring teachers who are doing a great job in educating students.
Twenty (20) Atmore VFW veterans have agreed to identify with local public schools and share their experiences with students, faculty and staff and provide assistance with citizenship education, youth development, scholarships and recognitions. The 20 veterans will form two-man teams and will be assigned to designated schools where they will perform as a two-person team, providing whatever assistance they can to school administrators and teachers and introduce students and teachers to VFW's award and scholarship programs.
Students in grades 6-8 will have the opportunity to compete in the VFW's annual essay competition and win thousands of dollars in V.S. Savings Bonds. Students begin by competing at the post level with subsequent winners advancing to the district and state level. State winners compete for more than $70,000 in V.S. Savings Bonds and an all- expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. Participating students will be invited to write a 300- 400-word essay on this year's patriotic theme, "Citizenship in America," that will be judged by a post selection committee.
High school students will have the opportunity to compete in the annual audio essay competition and win thousands of dollars in scholarships, a trip to Washington, D.C., as well as dozens of other awards. Competition begins at the post level with winners advancing to the district, state and national level. Participating students begin by writing and then recording a three-to-five minute audio/essay expressing their views on this year's theme, "Freedom's Challenge," that will be judged by a post selection committee. State winners receive at least a $1,000 scholarship but anyone of state finalist could win the $25,000 first place award.
Each year exceptional teachers are recognized by the VFW for their outstanding commitment to teach Americanism and patriotism to their students. Selected teachers will be recognized at post, district, and national levels with monetary awards with the finalist recognized at the VFW's National Community Service Conference in Washington, D.C.
Students at the elementary school level will be assisted by veterans with citizenship training that includes flag etiquette, history, and how to display and respect it, in addition to providing assistance and training in the proper way to conduct flag ceremonies. Veterans may also serve as classroom assistants, reading tutors, hall or cafeteria monitors, after school hobby instructors or sport coaches.
Last but certainly not least, Atmore area veterans appreciate the association they have with the JNROTC units at both Escambia County High School and Northview High School. Medal awards for academic and leadership excellence will be presented to the top cadets at these schools in May during the school's awards program.
For more information, students and teachers interested in participating in the VFW's awards and scholarship programs should contact the Post's Veterans in School Program Coordinator Byard Swift at 368-3742 or Post commander Lee "Lavan" Martin at 368-8160.
Lee "Lavan" Martin is the commander of the Atmore VFW Post 7016.