If Monday night was any indication, there a number of youth in Newton who are proud to be Americans.
Three fourth-grade students and three fifth-grade students from both Aurora Heights and Woodrow Wilson Elementary Schools were recently awarded with a certificate and cash prize for an essay contest put on Newton VFW Post 1655 Ladies’ Auxiliary.
The theme for the fourth-grade students was “My favorite freedom is?” and the fifth-graders tackled the theme of “How do we show our pride in America?”
Emily Russell, a fourth-grade student at Woodrow Wilson, won first place for her grade and her essay reads:
“(My favorite freedom is) the Emancipation Proclamation because it set the slaves free. I was inspired by the book ‘Henry’s Freedom Box.’ Henry went to work one day and when he came home his family, including the baby, had been taken. Henry shipped himself into a box to the north where he wouldn’t be a slave.
“He was later freed by Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation. I’m thankful that I don’t live in world with slavery, because I wouldn’t be allowed to hang out with some of my best friends like Taliyah and Camille.”
As the first place winner, Emily was rewarded with a $20, a certificate and her essay was entered into the district essay contest.
“I was real excited,” is how Emily said she felt after winning. She also has her sights set on entering the contest as a fifth-grader next year and plans on shopping with her winnings. Wyatt Hall, also from Woodrow Wilson, won second place, and Aurora Heights student Ben Roehler won third.
The themes for the essays are created by the national branch of the Ladies’ Auxiliary and it changes every year. If a student wins his or her local contest, they move on to districts, and if they continue to win they move onto state and finally nationals.
Woodrow Wilson student Meg Callaghan won the contest for fifth-graders and her essay reads:
“There are many different ways to show our American pride. One way is singing the National Anthem. Whether at a sporting event or just celebrating a patriotic holiday we sing the National Anthem. From dusk until dawn, the only light allowed us to see the ‘broad stripes and bright stars’ were from the rockets and bombs.
“Tears well up in my eyes when I hear the words ‘our flag was still there’ and I can’t hold back my American Pride as I envision the flag waving over the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave.’”
Meg also won $20 and her contest will also be entered into the district finals. Garrett Nook, Woodrow Wilson, won second place and Aurora Heights student Olivia Van Fosson-Roelfs came in third.
Chairwoman of Newton Post 1655 Ladies’ Auxiliary Elsie Graham said she has been part of this contest for the past 13 years and enjoys doing it year in and year out.
“The children, they are just like sponges at this age,” Graham said. “They absorb all this information and they read and they seem to love doing this sort of thing. The ideas they come up with for each year it amazes me, it just blows me away … It really is quite an important event for these children.”
Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.