Students from Beckville and Carthage were named this year’s winners of the Panola County VFW Post 5620’s Patriot’s Pen and Voice of Democracy essay contests.

Winners will go on to compete at the district level.

At the high school level, Carthage senior Mary Katherine Smith took home first prize in the Voice of Democracy contest. Alexander Martinez placed second, followed by honorable mention winners Abby Wilkerson and Maria Piedra. All three are from Carthage.

Beckville Junior High’s Micah English won first place in the Patriot’s Pen essay contest, followed by his fellow student Will Bogs in second place. Honorable mention honors were awarded to Preston Pepper from Beckville Junior High School and Charles Barber, a student at Carthage Junior High School.

The VFW also selected two area educators for their Citizen Teacer of the Year awards. Russell Rowe, who teaches at Carthage High School, was selected for the secondary grades category. Jessica Alexander, a teacher at Carthage Primary School, was selected for the elementary grades.

The essay and teacher of the year contests are open to all schools in Panola County, including homeschooled students and private schools. For entry information for 2020 contests, contact John Foster at (903) 693-8607.

Local businesses and individuals sponsoring awards for this year’s contests were First State Bank and Trust Co., NAPA Auto Parts, Tate Barber State Farm Insurance, Drew Nixon, CPA, and Corey Bankhead, attorney-at-law.