The inside of the Camas Community Center had a patriotic air on Sunday, Jan. 6, while local students were honored for their writing by the District 6 Veterans of Foreign Wars and its Ladies Auxiliary.
Twenty-one award winners were escorted to their seats before reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and listening to guest speaker, Camas Mayor Scott Higgins.
“It is a true honor to share some thoughts with you during this wonderful ceremony,” he said.
The theme of this year’s essay competition for middle school students was, “What I Would Tell America’s Founding Fathers,” and “Is Our Constitution Still Relevant?” for high school students. Elementary School students were also included in a state junior essay contest.
Higgins encouraged the winners to pay attention to history, to their character and to being pragmatic.
“I want to encourage you to live up to the model of the greatest generation,” he said. “I want to inspire you to be like them and to remember that what you pay attention to grows. I believe in you. Use the power you have to make things better. Be the next “greatest generation.”
• The honorees in the state junior essay competition for third-graders were Connor Murphy, first-place from Helen Baller; Emily Elwell, second-place from Helen Baller; and William Gunn, third-place from Gause Elementary.
• Fourth-grade winners were Bella Distante, first-place from Helen Baller, Jaelyn Sotelo, second-place from South Ridge Elementary; and Joey Stanley, third-place from Helen Baller Elementary.
• Fifth-grade winners Devon Wolf, South Ridge Elementary; Anna Walbruch, second-place from Helen Baller Elementary; and Rose Leveen, third-place from Prune Hill Elementary.
• Sixth-grade recipients of the Patriot’s Pen were Kaytlyn Sandu, first-place from Canyon Creek Middle School; and Josh Liksakov and Cameron Besner, second- and third-place from Liberty Middle School.
• Seventh-grade winners included Emma Hein, first-place from Canyon Creek Middle School; Valentine Garrett, second-place from Skyridge Middle School, and Anastasia Janiszewski, third-place from Canyon Creek Middle School.
In addition, Hein placed second at the state level, and her essay will be submitted for national consideration.
• Eighth-grade honorees were Justin Snodgrass, first-place from Jemtegaard Middle School; Bethany Barbieri, second-place from St. Joseph Catholic School; and Brooke Nugent, third-place from Kalama Middle School.
Voice of Democracy winners included Daniel Lundstedt, a home-schooled student; Jamie Kitchen, second-place from Woodland High School; and William Kraemer, third-place from La Center High School.