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Armed Services YMCA Announces Annual Art, Essay Contests

By Andree Swanson
Special to American Forces Press Service

SPRINGFIELD, Va., Jan. 11, 2000 – Entry details and deadlines were announced Jan. 4 for the Armed Services YMCA Millennium 2000 art and essay contests for the youth of military communities worldwide.

Entry deadline is March 31 for the 4th annual Young Readers Project Essay Contest, open to youth of all military families including the Coast Guard, reserve components and DoD civilian employees.

Top prizes of $1,000 U.S. Savings Bonds will be awarded to two high school students, one overseas and one in the United States; $500 bonds go to winning overseas and stateside students in the categories of seventh and eighth grade, fourth to sixth grade, and pre-school through third grade. Fifteen honorable mentions win $100 bonds.

High school essays should be 400 to 600 words long. Entries in poetic form are acceptable. Essay subject should center on the pleasure and value of reading; creativity counts. Suggestions include how the student discovered the value and importance of reading; what reading has meant to the student as a member of a military family; or how reading has helped during difficult times, such as when a parent was away on a military assignment.

Seventh and eighth grade entries should be 200 to 300 words long and begin with one of the following thoughts: "The most exciting thing about reading is ... ," or "The kinds of books I like to read the most are ... ," or "Reading is especially important in the electronic age ... ." Essays in poetic form are eligible.

Fourth to sixth grade essay length is 100 to 200 words, with students relating their opinions and thoughts about reading. Possible themes include "The reason I like to read is ... ," or "Everyone should read because ... ," or "My library is important because ... ." Poetic entries are eligible.

Pre-school to third grade: Essays in this group can be "as told to" or related by a parent and should be a paragraph or two beginning with: "I like my Mom and Dad to read to me because ... ," or "The favorite story I like my Mom or Dad to read to me is ... ," or "My favorite book is..." or "The best book I've ever read is ... ." Third graders should write their own essays.

All entries must include the student's name, address, age, grade, parents' names and military unit affiliation, and telephone number. For more details and criteria, visit the Armed Services YMCA Web site at www.asymca.org. Entries can be submitted by e-mail to Y2KEssayContest@asymca.org, or by regular mail.

Contest deadline is June 30 for the fifth annual Armed Services YMCA art contest, open to all children in kindergarten through sixth grade who are from active duty, Reserve, National Guard, and DoD civilian employee families.

Five winners will receive $500 U.S. Savings Bonds, and five honorable mentions will receive $100 bonds. One of the winners will be selected as the Millennium 2000 poster for Military Family Week, Nov. 19-26 this year. The poster is distributed to military installations throughout the world.

This year's theme is "My Military Family." Drawings should depict the artist's family and some aspect of their military life. Creativity counts. Submissions may be in color or black and white and should be drawn on unlined letter-sized paper.

Entries must include the student's name, age, grade level, address, the parents' full names, military unit, and a telephone number or e-mail address. Entries lacking this information cannot be awarded prizes. Families scheduled to move should include information on the receiving command or unit to ensure winning children can be notified.

Essay and art contest entries may be mailed to:

Armed Services YMCA

6225 Brandon Ave., Suite 215

Springfield, VA 22150.

For additional information, call Andree Swanson at (703) 866-1260, or write to aswanson@asymca.org.

The two contests are part of the Armed Services YMCA's support to military and DoD civilian employee families. Its co-sponsors are the U.S. Naval Institute for the essay contest and Geico Direct for the art competition.

More than 12,000 young people have entered the essay contest since it began in 1997. More than 8,000 have participated in the art contest since it was introduced in 1996.

The Armed Services YMCA, in addition to its national programs, operates more than 60 program centers through its branches and affiliates across the nation.

(Andree Swanson works for the Armed Services YMCA in Springfield, Va.)

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