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Southern Illinois student a national winner in VFW contest

Posted on 2/24/2017, 5:00 AM

Thanks to Madilyn Gawrych-Turner, the District 15 Veterans of Foreign Wars now can claim a national winner in the Patriot's Pen competition.

Turner, a student at Jonesboro Elementary School, took second place last weekend at the national competition held in Washington, D.C.

The VFW enacted the Patriot's Pen youth essay competition in 1995 as a way to encourage young minds to examine America's history, along with their own experiences in modern American society. It is held in conjunction with the Voice of Democracy competition, an audio-essay program that provides students in grades four to 12 from across the country an opportunity to express themselves in a democratic and patriot-themed recorded essay.

The contest is open to students in grades six through eight. This year's theme was "The America I Believe In."

District Commander John Metzger said Turner's win is amazing.

"There were over 125,000 essays submitted," he said.

Turner's mother, Pamela, a teacher at Jonesboro Elementary, said her daughter received another $4,000 in prize money "that she will be saving for college."

"Madilyn is very honored and grateful to the VFW District 15 for the opportunities she has been given and all of their support," Turner said.

Metzger, who has been working with area schools for a number of years, said he "always tells the kids it's a way to get scholarships and prize money."

Turner proved that, pocketing just over $5,000 for her college fund.