The VFW Post 5620 is sponsoring two youth essay contests for Panola County students in grades 6-12.

Local winners receive cash awards and advance to district and state competition for thousands of dollars in scholarship awards.

The Voice of Democracy contest is open for students in grades 9 through 12 who write an essay on a patriotic theme and record their essay on a CD or thumb drive. The state winners receive an all-expenses paid trip to Washington D.C. to compete on the national level. The national winner receives a $30,000 scholarship.

The Patriot’s Pen contest is open to students in grades 6 through 8. Students express their opinions on a patriotic theme in a written essay. State winners compete for a total of $91,000 in U.S. savings bonds, with the national winner receiving a $5,000 award.

Entries for both contests are available by contacting contest chairman John Foster at (903) 693-8607. The contest is open to all public school, private school and home-schooled students who are encouraged to participate.

The entry deadline is Oct. 31 for both contests.