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Teen earns scholarships in essay contest

Theodore Burns, 18, of Columbia City pens winning essay in VFW scholarship contest

Burns A Columbia City teen was awarded two scholarships from the Veterans of Foreign Wars high school essay contest, and is eligible to win a third scholarship over the coming months.

St. Helens VFW Post 1440 selected 18-year-old Theodore Burns to receive a $200 scholarship for the Voice of Democracy essay contest in November.

As a local winner, he was then nominated for recognition at the district level, where he was selected to win an additional $100 scholarship.

As the district winner, Burns' essay will be submitted to the state competition, where scholarships for selected essayists range from $200 to $1,000.

If it is selected at the state level, the essay will then be submitted to the national level, where scholarships range from $1,000 to $16,000. The first-place national winner receives a $30,000 scholarship.

Sponsored by the VFW, the Voice of Democracy essay contest is an annual schloarship competition open to high school students enrolled in grades nine through 12.

The theme of this year's contest was, “My Vision for America.” Burns said his essay explained the importance of hard-working, everyday people, not just politicians, trying to make their country a better place.

A parks committee member from Columbia City encouraged Burns to enter the contest earlier this year, Burns said. Although he had heard of the contest before, he had never entered.

“I'm glad I won. I wasn't sure that I made such a good essay. I just wrote from the heart and wrote what I believed,” Burns said. “I didn't write to win. I just wrote what I believed and whatever happened, happened.”

Burns, who is a home-schooled senior, plans to enlist in the U.S. Navy after completing high school. He said he has decided to save any scholarship funding to pay for further schooling.

“I'm very thankful I've gotten this scholarship and have gotten as far as I have,” Burns said.