Local students honored by VFW Post 5297
December 15, 2022
On Friday, December 2, Wahkiakum Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5297 presented certificates and cash awards to winners of the 2022-2023 Youth Essays, Patriots Pen, and Voice of Democracy contests at the elementary, middle and high schools. Working alongside America's youth and instilling a sense of patriotism has always been a VFW priority.
Each year local VFW posts hold three essay competitions, the Voice of Democracy for grades 9-12, the Patriots Pen for grades 6-8, and the Youth Essay for grades 3-5. Students write essays based on given patriotic themes and the essays are evaluated by members of the local community. Winners of the essay competition are recognized with certificates and cash awards. First place Youth Essay winners compete up to the District 16 level. Patriots Pen and Voice of Democracy winners compete up through District 16 and state levels and if successful, to the national level. Forty Youth essays, 27 Patriots Pen, and one Voice of Democracy essays were evaluated.
Post 5297 Commander Bill Tawater and Post 5297 Youth Essay Chairman Art Young presented certificates and cash awards to the essay winners in their classroom. The winners were Youth Essay, 3rd grade: 1st place, Emmaline Vikas - $100; 2nd place, Jordan Rangila - $50; 3rd place, Andraya Hansen - $50; 4th grade: 1st place, Aspen Cothren - $100; 2nd place, Aubree Helms - $50; 3rd place, John Leo Velke IV - $50; 5th grade: 1st place, Leah Gonzales - $100; 2nd place, Autumn Cochran - $50; 3rd place, Max Ohrberg - $50; Patriots Pen, 6th grade: 1st place, Steven Guitron - $100; 2nd place, Konner Reese - $75; 3rd place, Chloe Sutton - $50; 7th grade: 1st place, Joshua Moon - $100; 2nd place, Clara Hogue - $75; 3rd place, Joseph Merz - $50; 8th grade: 1st place, Henry Wilson - $100; 2nd place, Abigail McKay-Beach - $75; 3rd place, Matthew Wills - $50; Voice of Democracy, 12th grade: 1st place, Gabriel Gumucio - $200. A total of $1,475 was awarded.
A District 16 awards ceremony was held on Saturday, December 3, in the Norse Hall, Puget Island. Youth Essay: 3rd grade, 1st place, Emmaline Vik - $50; 4th grade, 1st place, Aspen Cothren - $50; 5th grade, 1st place, Leah Gonzales - $50; Patriots Pen: 1st place, Joshua Moon - $100; 2nd place, Steve Guitron - $75; Voice of Democracy, 2nd place, Gabriel Gumucio - $100. District 16 awarded a total of $820 of which $425 was awarded to Wahkiakum students.
On December 12, elementary school teacher Jamie Brown, was presented with the Teacher of the Year certificate and awarded $500. At the District 16 awards ceremony she was awarded $100.
The Teacher of the Year, Voice of Democracy, and Patriots Pen winners now go on to the state competition. The winners of the state competition go on to the national level.