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Students holding certificates with men in uniform seated
Region 15 Schools

Eighth-grade students from both Memorial Middle School (MMS) in Middlebury and Rochambeau Middle School (RMS) in Southbury participated in the Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest, sponsored locally by George Newton VFW Post 1607 in Southbury. Marlo Gabriele, an Eighth-grade student at Memorial Middle School (MMS), took 2nd place at the state level in the Patriot’s Pen Essay Competition. Marlo was honored on January 8th by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) at a banquet in Rocky Hill, CT.  At RMS, the essays written by Izzy Winer and Ava Fleming advanced to the regional competition. The students were recognized at RMS for their winning essays.

The Patriot’s Pen is a national youth essay contest that encourages students to write essays expressing their views on an annual patriotic theme chosen by the VFW Commander-in-Chief.  Each year more than 125,000 students in grades 6-8 enter the VFW’s Patriot’s Pen contest.  To participate in the contest, eighth-grade students wrote essays based on the 2022-23 theme, “My Pledge to Our Veterans." 

The contest consists of four levels, with the entry-level sponsored by local VFW Posts, followed by the regional, state, and national levels. Essays are judged by members of the VFW on theme development, clarity of ideas, and knowledge of the theme. The VFW shared that the essay contest encourages young minds to examine America's history, along with their own experiences in modern American society.

Eighth-grade history teachers in Region 15 coordinate the program at both middle schools.  Mrs. LeAnn Cassidy, Mr. Karl Buckley from Memorial Middle School, and Mr. Sonny SanAngelo from Rochambeau Middle School. Teachers use this opportunity to integrate themes of patriotism, service, sacrifice, and freedom into student writing

Back Row L-R:  Maria Bueno, Mrs. Bourque (Assistant Principal), Marlo Gabriele, Ryan Murray, Mrs. Cassidy (Teacher), and Elianna Palmieri Front Row L-R:  Mr. Williams (VFW Post 1607), Pranavi Mamidi, Nathan Cooney, John Reeder (Jack), Delilah Salcito, Alexis Howe, Zayden Woodhouse, and Mr. Scherk (VFW Post 1607)

Students holding certificates with men in uniform seated
Man in patriotic tie standing with girl holding certificate

Larry Williams, Commander of VFW Post 1607, congratulates Izzy Winer and Ava Fleming from Rochambeau Middle School for their winning essays that were selected to advance to the regional competition in the VFW’s Patriot’s Pen Essay contest.