Archive for Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Students win VFW essay contest

January 31, 2007

Several Basehor-Linwood Middle School students showed that even the youngest Americans have a firm grasp of what it means to be a good citizen.

Seventh-grader Morgan Kleoppel and eighth-graders Gabe Vlasic, Haley Hanna, Courtney Poe, Moriah Manford, Sheridan Miles, Skiler King, Brent Higgins, Mackenzie Mitchener and Tabitha Thomas all were winners of the Basehor Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 11499 Patriot's Pen Essay Contest.

The 10 winners were recognized during an awards ceremony Thursday evening at the VFW Post. Seven of the 10 students attended, enjoyed dessert with their families and VFW members, read their winning essays aloud and received a certificate and $100 savings bond.

"We had almost 400 of these essays come in," said Dan Stueckemann, VFW junior vice commander. "We read every one of these three times."

According to the VFW Web site, the Patriot's Pen Essay Contest is a national competition and about 115,000 students in grades six, seven and eight participate in it annually. This year, the students wrote a 300 to 400-word essay with the theme "Citizenship in America." The author of each essay remains anonymous to the local VFW judges until winners are chosen.

Here is an excerpt from each of the winning essays:

  • "Good citizenship takes effort. You have to try at it," -- Mackenzie Mitchener.
  • "If you are of the age of 18, you can be a good citizen by voting," -- Tabitha Thomas.
  • "We all have equal rights in this world and we all deserve to be a citizen," -- Haley Hanna.
  • "You can make a difference. Be a good citizen and represent America," -- Gabe Vlasic.
  • "Our planet is the only place to live, so we should take care of it," -- Morgan Kleoppel.
  • "If you're aiming to become a good citizen, I would stay out of trouble and obey the law," -- Sheridan Miles.
  • "The best way to be a good citizen is volunteering and donating," -- Brent Higgins.
  • Courtney Poe, Moriah Manford and Skiler King were not present.

The 10 winning essays were forwarded to the district level for a chance to move on to the state and national levels. Higgins received second place at district.

VFW Commander Fred Box said the essay contest and the awards ceremony were examples of the some of things the VFW does with donations.

"Everything that is donated as far as money is given back to the community," he said. "Most of it is given to the young people in Basehor. It's always such a great honor to do this."

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