Patriotic theme wins Bruins Voice of Democracy scholarships, Arn advances to state

COURTESY PHOTO: GRESHAM-BARLOW SCHOOL DISTRICT  - Yadhira Sanchez-Gomez, Jenna Nuttall and Owen Arn, all from Sam Barlow High School, receive their scholarships and recognition from the Gresham VFW at a school assembly  Students from Sam Barlow High School swept a patriotic speech awards competition sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Gresham post.

Owen Arn, a junior at Sam Barlow High School, won first place in the VFW Gresham United Post 180's 2019 Voice of Democracy Scholarship program. Arn received $250 and will advance to the statewide competition.

Jenna Nuttall earned the second place spot and received a $200 scholarship. Yadhira Sanchez-Gomez was third and got a $150 scholarship.

"The Voice of Democracy competition provides high school students with the opportunity to speak out on freedom and democracy," said Gresham United Post 180 Commander David Lowe.

"The program has been popular and successful since its beginning in 1947, and we're proud to keep offering it to America's young people," he added.

The Voice of Democracy is a worldwide audio-essay competition that requires entrants to write and record a three-to-five minute essay on a patriotic-based theme. This year's theme was "What Makes America Great."

Forty students participated in the competition this year.

The winners of the statewide competition will travel to Washington, D.C. and compete at the national level for the first-place prize of a $30,000 college scholarship.

The competition has a long history. The National Association of Broadcasters started the Voice of Democracy Scholarship program in 1947. The VFW became a national sponsor in the late 1950s and assumed sole responsibility for the program in 1961.

The competition was created to provide students in grades nine through 12 with the opportunity to express themselves about democratic ideas and principles. Nationwide, around 40,000 students participate in the competition annually and the VFW awards more than $2.1 million in scholarships every year.

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