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Washougal students recognized by VFW for essays

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Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4278 honors Scout Eldridge (fourth from left), a student at Gause Elementary School in Washougal, as a winner of the statewide Junior Essay Contest in January 2024. (Contributed photo courtesy of the Washougal School District)

Washougal students recently earned recognition in three local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) essay competitions.

Veterans from VFW Post 4278 visited classrooms across the Washougal School District last month to present awards to the Patriot’s Pen youth essay, Voice of Democracy audio-essay scholarship program and State Junior Essay winners.

The awards reflect students’ efforts “to thoughtfully articulate their understanding and appreciation of American values and democracy,” according to a news release.

“Democracy is important because it means everyone has a voice,” said Washougal High student Jordan Stepp, who took first place in the Voice of Democracy competition.

Jemtegaard students Emberlee Ellsworth, Kaidence Powell, Natalie Lawrence, Kylie Woodruff, and Sky Pineda-Lamkin, and Canyon Creek seventh-grader Avery Crain were awarded honors in the Patriot’s Pen essay contest, which challenged students to describe how they are inspired by America.

Columbia River Gorge Elementary students Anava Grundy and Joela Grundy and Gause Elementary student Scout Eldridge placed in the State Junior Essay competition, “express(ing) their thoughts on democracy with clarity and creativity,” according to the news release.

Washougal High School students Ellie Dryden and Claire Zakovics and Stepp earned honors in the VFW Voice of Democracy Program, “showcasing their exceptional understanding and appreciation of democratic values,” according to the news release.

Stepp (first place) will receive a $600 award, Dryden (third place) will receive a $300 scholarship, and Zakovics (fourth place) will be awarded a $200 scholarship.