MANCHESTER - The 2012 Voice of Democracy eassay contest - sponsored by The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) of the United States and locally by Harned-Fowler VFW Post 6471- is open to all students in grades nine through 12. The grand prize is $30,000.

This year's essay theme will be "Is Our Constitution Still Relevant?" Students should record their reading of their written draft to a CD. The recording can be no shorter than 3 minutes and no longer than 5 minutes (plus or minus 5 seconds).

The entry deadline is no later than Nov.. 1 and delivered to VFW Post 6471, which is located on Depot Street, Manchester Center, by 6 p.m.

Each year, more than 51,000 high school students from across the country enter to win a share of the $2.2 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the VFW's Voice of Democracy audio-essay competition.

All local students who enter compete for cash and prizes totaling $600 at Post 6471 level with a first, second and third place winner. Post winners then advance to District 1 VFW level and compete against the winners of all Posts in southern Vermont for $200 in cash prizes plus certificates.

The District 1 winner then advances to State competition and competes against his or her peers from the other two Districts of Vermont for $1,000 in total cash prizes at VT State VFW level.

The State winner then advances to national competition to represent Vermont and competes against 53 of their peers from all States and territories.

The Vermont State winner competes for the Grand prize of $30,000 in U.S. Savings Bonds and scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $16,000.

Contact Harned-Fowler VFW Post 6471 Commander Joe Lumsden at 362-9840 for the entry form and rules.