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Photo by Hank Lohmeyer High school essayists in the Voice of Democracy writing contest read their winning compositions during a Veterans Day assembly at Cedaredge High School on Nov. 11. They are, from left, Holly Jenkins, Dalia Alejandre and Nevaeh Martinez. Jenkins’s first place work will be submitted for district level competition.
Photo by Hank Lohmeyer Eighth grade writers Kimber Alanko and Alex Barron were honored for their Patriot Pen essays at the Veterans Day assembly. Not pictured is essay winner Skylar Sakala.

Students read from their essays with a patriotic theme

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Top local essayists in the Veterans of Foreign Wars writing contests for high school and middle school students were named and shared their patriotic compositions at a combined school assembly on Friday, Nov. 11 - Veterans Day.

In the high school division, Voice of Democracy essay winners were Holly Jenkins, first; Dalia Alejandre, second; and, Nevaeh Martinez, third. Jenkins's essay will be submitted to the VFW district level competition.

In the middle school division, first place went to Skylar Sakala; second to Kimber Alanko and third place went to Alex Barron.

The topic for the high school essays was "My responsibility to America."

Jenkins wrote that upon seeing poll results showing that a small percentage of Americans say they are proud to be American she wrote, "My responsibility is to change these statistics." Among other responsibilities she noted was keeping the peace in response to violent protests.

Dalia Alejandre's essay expressed her responsibility to display an attitude of thankfulness and gratitude for "a good education, good teachers, and a good atmosphere "in which to learn, live, and grow" and "to shape this country for the next generation to come."

Nevaeh Martinez wrote that her responsibility is "to live up to the expectations I pledge to every morning" when saying the Pledge of Allegiance in first hour class.

First place winner in the middle school category was Skylar Sakala who was not able to attend the assembly and read her essay because she was competing in a Knowledge Barron event.

The essays by Alanko and Barron in the middle school Patriot Pen competition both emphasized the theme of freedom.

Kimber Alanko wrote, "The American Dream offers freedom, equality and opportunity."

Alex Barron wrote, "America is a symbol of hope, peace and freedom."

The VFW patriotic essay competition is a part of the language curriculum at both schools. More than a dozen middle school students participated in the Patriot Pen essay exercise, and several dozen high school students contributed essays to the Voice of Democracy part of the learning experience.

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