Americanism Essay Contest winners honored

PRINCESS ANNE — Students who won the American Legion Auxiliary’s Americanism Essay Contest were honored by Unit 94 at the Oliver T. Beauchamp American Legion Post.

This annual program is designed to promote patriotism, citizenship, and American democracy — principles for which this country was founded — and for which “our veterans have made personal sacrifices to make America great for us,” said contest Chair Mattie Dryden.

This past school year there were 22 participants, all from Deal Island Elementary School, significantly fewer than in the past. The essays were to answer the question “How can we address and prevent veteran homelessness in our communities?”

In Group 1, representing grades 3-4, Nathan LesCallett was the winner. His suggestions included sending care packages to members of the military when they are active, and visiting them after they are discharged.
“You can talk to them because it’s always good to have somebody to talk to,” he wrote. And if they are disabled, “run a couple errands for them.”
Placing second in Group I was Kevin Jackson, who expressed the importance of addressing a veteran’s health and wellbeing.

Among the fifth graders (Group II) Connor Shores was the top essay writer. He wrote about the impact of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among military members and their family. “We should send over therapists to help them with their feelings and experiences,” he wrote. “We also need to help their families to deal with their PTSD. We can do this by training family members and having family therapy.”

Anyone involved in war “deserves love,” stated second place winner Savanna Towles, and Macy Miles, who was third, reminded the audience that “We have our rights because of our veterans.”

The Auxiliary awarded prize money of $25, 15 and $10 to the winners.
With schools closed to students since March 13 the reception was a chance for teachers and students to see each other in person for the first time in months. Christina South, the immediate past Teacher of the Year for Somerset County, said she was especially proud of Nathan and Kevin because “they were really dedicated to putting their hearts into the question.”

Deal Island Elementary each year has a program that invites veterans to the school, and Ms. South said her father, a Vietnam War veteran, was among them. It was also significant for her since her son has also joined the Air Force. She thinks this interaction with the students puts passion into their writing.

For the fifth graders — now sixth graders enrolled at Somerset Intermediate School — teacher Michele Messick said her students showed their patriotism through their essays. Connor in particular, she said, takes this very seriously as he already knows he wants to join the military.
Following the program held Sept. 2 the Auxiliary treated students and their families to pizza and refreshments.