Essay contest helps students fly the flag

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Why am I proud to pledge the allegiance to our flag?”

That was the question posed to local middle school students by the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Lodge 1491 during this year’s Americanism Essay Contest.

Two hundred seventy-five fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade students from Whitehall Elementary and High schools, Hartford Central School and Fair Haven Grade School participated in this year’s contest and last Wednesday the top 10 students in each in division (fifth and sixth grade constituted division I and seventh and eighth division II) were honored during an awards ceremony at Whitehall Elks Lodge.

Tammy Stevens, the Americanism chairperson and esquire for Elks Lodge 1491, said the program offers students an opportunity to compete for a scholarship and express how they feel about pledging allegiance to the flag, in 250 words or less.

“This is not part of the school’s curriculum, it’s something extra. Teachers don’t have to do it but their participation shows they care and displays their patriotism,” Stevens said.

Eric Ringquist, who teaches eighth-grade language arts at Fair Haven Elementary School, had his class participate for the second time.

“It fits in perfectly with what we are doing. I assign it to the class as a personal essay. I have them do as an assignment but they don’t have to submit it,” Ringquist said. “It’s not necessarily difficult because it’s a personal essay so they don’t have to cite sources but I do make them include at least one quote.

“It’s a very good exercise because it forces them to limit how much they write.”

Whitehall sixth grade teacher Christine Hoagland said the district is always trying to advance student’s writing abilities and the essay contest represents a fun way to do that.

“They get enticed by the bowling party,” Hoagland said. “But what’s really great is it’s a great tool to reiterate the patriotism that exists in this country and a nice reminder to the students of all the men and woman who have made sacrifices that enable them to go to school every day.”

Each of the 275 essays was read by a panel of five judges comprising members of the Elks Lodge and Whitehall American Legion Post 83, who evaluated each student’s writing based on their response to the question.

“I felt it was important to get a few guys from the Legion involved because this is something near their heart,” Stevens said.

After reading each essay, judges removed the ones they deemed most worthy and the ones that made the cut were read aloud and given a numerical score until the submissions were whittled down to the top 10 and eventually the top three over the course of two days earlier this month.

“The fifth and sixth grade students can really write and the seventh and eighth grade students take it to another level and expand on the topic. I actually learned things I didn’t know,” Stevens said.

Martin Rocque, Exalted Ruler of Lodge 1491, served as a judge for the first time this year and came away impressed with what he read.

“Some of them were very good, I was surprised,” Rocque said. He joked that some of the students were already cynics.

During last Wednesday’s party, students were treated to pizza and free bowling before receiving certificates and miniature American flags for their participation. The top three finalists in each category received cash prizes for their essays.

The top three finalists in each division will also move on to the district level where they will compete for an opportunity to make it to the state and then the national levels. Last year two students involved in the local competition advanced to the state level.

The top national finishers will receive a $1,000 savings bond.

 

Comments

comments

Read more in this week's Times in newsstands now or click here to read right now with our e-edition.

Classifieds 03/25/14

Search for Sasquatch resumes, forty years later

Statue 2

By Dan King It’s been 40 years since the first reported Sasquatch sighting in Whitehall and now the quest to […]

Apathy leaves trustee seat vacant

Candidate pic Ken Bartholomew

By Dan King Whitehall’s mayor-elect, Ken Bartholomew was hoping someone would emerge to take his old trustee position, but that […]

Jane O’Shea resigns, cites issues with board

Jane O'Shea BW

By Derek Liebig A Granville principal is resigning at the end of the school year because of a disagreement over […]

Reelected, incumbents face challenges

By Derek Liebig Members of the Granville Village Board will be together for at least two more years. Incumbents Dean […]

Keough to plant community garden

Jensen Keough

By Dan King A Whitehall High School student has come up with a creative way to support local charity and […]

Whitehall school officials want bobsled club back

By Dan King Until this year, Whitehall High School was the only school in the country with a bobsled club, […]

District, school administrators reach pact

By Derek Liebig The Granville Central School District and the Granville Administrators’ Association, with five members, reached agreement last week […]

Karas not concerned about budget

By Dan King Despite fiscal concerns voiced Board of Education member Frank Barber, Whitehall Central School Business Administrator Joe Karas […]

Whitehall/Fort Ann wrestlers raise $600 for cancer research

Julian Barber

Senior wrestler Julian Barber’s charity wrestling idea caught on with his teammates during the season, to the tune of $600. […]

Sasquatch sightings on the rise

By Dan King Officials say the snowy weather has driven local Sasquatches out of the woods and caused them to […]

Hampton to join county on savings plan

David O'Brien

By Derek Liebig The Town of Hampton will join Washington County on a regional government efficiency plan. Supervisor Dave O’Brien […]