Promoting patriotism and responsible citizenship is one of the tenets of the American Legion Auxiliary. Annually the organization holds an Americanism Essay contest asking students in grades 3 through 8 to write a short speech on the subject. This year students were asked to answer the question “How can we support families who provide care to their veterans?”
Students from St. Leonard Elementary School, Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic School and Mill Creek Middle School responded with 48 essays with ideas to work and support people who are caregivers to veterans in their families. Students suggested providing supportive services, including help with yard work, cleaning, making meals and providing help with odd jobs. Students learned that caregivers have a difficult but rewarding job helping their family members that have served in the military. The students also provided ways the community could become involved.
Nancy Almaraz, Americanism Essay Contest chair, said “This contest offers teachers an aid to teach Americanism and good citizenship. The students provided excellent ideas on how to support the families. The judges were impressed with the thought that was put into the essays.”
Winning students were invited to a reception at the American Legion Post 274 where they were presented with their awards and had photos taken with their families. Winners are listed below by category with the name of their school and teacher.
3rd and 4th grades
- 1st Place – Annalisa Arata, Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic School, Kimberly Weber
- 2nd Place – Nameary Wilkins, St. Leonard Elementary, Jessica Reynolds
- 3rd Place – Neal Passey, St. Leonard Elementary, Jessica Reynolds
5th and 6th grades
- 1st Place – Sienna Matteson, St. Leonard Elementary, Elizabeth Roe
- 2nd Place – Thomas Perrin, Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic School, Sarah Ericksen
- 3rd Place – Daniel DiBonaventuro, Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic School, Sarah Ericksen
7th and 8th grades
- 1st Place – Sam Hough, Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic School, Sarah Ericksen
- 2nd Place – Shaylin McReynolds, Mill Creek Middle School, Jacqueline Hall
- 3rd Place – Lucie Olekson, Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic School, Sarah Ericksen
Winners received a cash prize, certificate and American flag. Cash prizes were 1st place – $100, 2nd place – $75, 3rd place – $50.
First place winners in each category – Annalisa Arata, Sienna Matteson and Sam Hough -moved to the District Level, competing against winners from Anne Arundel, Charles, Prince Georges and St. Mary’s County. At the District Level Siena Elise Matteson won 1st place and Annalisa Arata won 2nd place. They will receive certificates and cash prizes at the Southern Maryland American Legion Auxiliary District meeting in late April.
“The Americanism Essay Contest gives our youth a way to express their opinions,” said American Legion Auxiliary Unit 274 President Joyce Baki. “Everyone has a duty to be involved in their community regardless of their age. These students came up with excellent ideas that our Legion Family will use in the near future working with the families of our veterans. We appreciate these young people; they are our future.”
The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veteran organization focusing on service to veterans, active-duty military, their families and the community. There are more than 2 million members, located in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, France, Mexico and the Philippines. The Legion has worked to provide hundreds of benefits for veterans, produce programs for children and youth and influence social change in America.
To learn more about the American Legion Auxiliary, please visit www.alaforveterans.org.
For more information on the American Legion Auxiliary Arick L. Lore Unit 274 visit their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/alapost274
Please enjoy the picture gallery below.
Joyce Stinnett Baki / Special to Calvert Beacon