MANCHESTER - Harned-Fowler VFW Post 6471 of Manchester Vermont announced the 2012 VFW Voice of Democracy (VOD) Essay contest winners.

Devine Straley of Burr and Burton Academy won first place for a prize of $300 and Connor Harrington, also of Burr and Burton, took second place and received a prize of $200.

Straley's essay now advances to District 1 of Vermont VFW level competition and the winner there will be determined on Dec. 5. That winner then will advance to Vermont State level in Lyndonville at the State awards banquet on Jan. 12, 2013. The winner will compete for $1,000 in scholarships and the honor to represent Vermont at the National level.

At the National level Straley will compete against 53 of his peers from all the U.S. States and territories.

The national first-place winner receives a $30,000 scholarship paid directly to the recipient's American university, college or vocational/technical school. Other national scholarships range from $1,000- $16,000 and the first-place winner from each (State) VFW Department wins an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.

This year's theme was "Is Our Constitution Still Relevant?" The contest was open to all students in grades nine through 12 and on average 51,000 students enter from all States and territories of the United States.