Columbia City teen Maria Burns was presented with a framed certificate for her state award-winning essay in a Veterans of Foreign Wars-sponsored essay contest she entered last summer. After winning the local, district and state-level of the contest for sixth- through eighth-graders, Burns has earned $2,500 in awards over the last year. The VFW sponsors essay contests annually, which begin at the local post level. Entries for the 2017-18 Patriot's Pen and Voice of Democracy contests may be submitted until Oct. 31 to the St. Helens VFW Post 1440. The theme for the Patriot's Pen contest is "America's Gift to My Generation," and the theme for the Voice of Democracy Contest for high school students is "American History: Our Hope for the Future." For a full application form and complete rules for the contest, contact David Nelsen at 503-278-8473 or Sally Ann Marson at 503-366-0832.