WJHS student reaches the national level in a patriotic essay contest

Wells Junior High School eighth-grade student Annora Ferris learned in early March that she had placed 25th at the national level of the VFW’s 2022-23 Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest.  To reach national consideration, she won the local VFW District portion of the contest, then received first place in the state competition.  

"We are incredibly proud of Annora and impressed by her love of writing!” commented WJHS Principal Joshua Gould.  “It is no surprise the quality of her work is amongst the best in the country."

The theme of this year’s contest was “My Pledge to Our Veterans”.  Ferris’ essay begins with her father, a disabled Army veteran who has a knee injury and often experiences insomnia.  Ferris indicated that she misses the walks she used to have with him and often keeps him company when he finds it difficult to sleep.  Her father, like many veterans needing medical care, must interact with the enormous and slow-moving Veterans’ Health Administration when filing disability claims, scheduling medical appointments, and so forth.   

“To the veterans, my pledge is this,” writes Ferris in her essay, “I will raise awareness in my community by engaging the youth in a youth political veterans cause.  We will travel from community to state all the way to (the) national government bringing you the awareness and help you need.”  

Among the steps to achieve that, she writes that her group will employ social media to share stories to raise awareness of issues facing veterans.  She also plans to explore the possibility of working with a local animal shelter to train and assign emotional support dogs to area veterans who would benefit from that.  

“Nora is a voracious reader, creative writer, and an ELA teacher's dream student,” commented ELA teacher Julie Esch.  “Nora's high level of empathy makes her writing very easy to connect to and very fun to read! She should be really proud of this national recognition.”

Although still in junior high school where she enjoys studying English Language Arts (ELA) and science, Ferris already has a focus on the future where she plans to attend college to study wildlife conservation and become a researcher in that field.

The Patriot's Pen program is sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and is open to 6th thru 8th-grade students in the United States and its territories.  Each year about 68,000 students enter essays.  In doing so they have a chance to win a monetary prize.  First place at the national level is a $5,000 scholarship.  Winners at the state level receive $500.

WJHS student Annora Ferris