MUSCATINE, Iowa–Each year, Muscatine Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1565 holds its Patriot’s Pen essay contest to encourage civic engagement in middle school students. This year, Jennifer Tian, an eighth-grade student at Central Middle School, won the contest.
As part of the VFW’s national Patriot’s Pen contest, the Muscatine VFW holds their annual contest. Patriot’s Pen invites children in grades six through eight to submit an essay by the end of October on the year’s topic. Topics encourage participants to think about what they love about their country and what they can do to help it. This year, Patriot’s Pen asked students to write and submit essays about what they believe makes the United States a great country to live in. Winners of local Patriot’s Pen contests, such as Muscatine’s, can progress on to higher levels, with the VFW eventually choosing a national winner.
Last fall, Jennifer decided to enter the essay contest after hearing about it from a Muscatine VFW member who visited her parents’ restaurant: “I help my parents at a restaurant. One of the ladies in that group introduced me to it,” she recalls.
Jennifer’s essay focused on how freedom makes the United States a good place to live. When she found out her essay won, she felt both surprised and excited that her hard work paid off. Jennifer also felt pleased to win the contest’s $100 grand prize and a pizza gift certificate.
Though Jennifer had never entered an essay contest before participating in Patriot’s Pen, she has always enjoyed English language arts (ELA) in school. A budding writer, Jennifer especially enjoys research writing. “ELA is just easier to me and interesting,” she shared. When she grows up, Jennifer hopes to become a high school ELA teacher and share her passion for writing with others.
By winning this year’s Muscatine VFW Patriot’s Pen essay contest, Jennifer showed her skills as a writer and her love for her community and country. As she grows up, she looks forward to continuing to develop these traits in her dream career as a high school teacher.