Gardiner Regional Middle School participated in the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ local Patriot’s Pen essay contest last fall, sponsored by the Bagley, Gardiner, Foster VFW Post 9 of Gardiner. From left are Catherine Mansir, ELA Teacher Stephanie Dickson, Riley Fish, Principal John Laperriere and Ella Setchell. Contributed photo

More than 100 students at Gardiner Regional Middle School participated last fall in the The Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Patriot’s Pen, an annual nationwide scholarship program sponsored by the VFW.

Students wrote an essay on the topic, “What is Patriotism to Me?” The contest was sponsored by the Bagley, Gardiner, Foster VFW Post 9 of Gardiner, the ninth-oldest post in the United States. It was chartered in 1918.

Catherine Mansir won first place at both the Post and District 8 (Kennebec County) levels. Campbell Firth placed second, and Ella Setchell and Riley Fish tied for third in the Post level.

The scholarship program has taken place for more than 70 years. Each year more than 138,000 students in grades 6 to 8 enter the VFW’s Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest for a chance to win their share of more than $1.4 million in state and national awards.

The essay contest encourages young minds to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society, by drafting a 300- to 400-word essay, expressing their views based on a patriotic theme chosen by the VFW.