FITCHBURG – The American Legion Post 10 Pensive Patriot Essay Awards took place last month at Longsjo Middle School, where several students were recognized at the June 15 event for their writing talents.
This is the fourth year the essay contest was open to 8th grade students, an effort that started at McKay Elementary School during the pandemic. Post 10 provides three award levels – Gold $75, Silver $50, and Bronze $25, with two students chosen for each level.
Forty-eight essays were generated this year and the prompt question was “What are three top attributes of our Democracy?” The VFW Patriot’s Pen judging rubric was used and completed by former Fitchburg High School (FHS) graduates in the area and beyond including from California, New York, Thailand, and Illinois.
Of the eight the award-winning Fitchburg students, this year’s Gold awards went to Prudence Dicato and Hnuchi Moua, Silver was awarded to Carlos Rodriguez Jr. and Derick Nartey, Kennisa Rotasayne and Madelyn Elkins took home Bronze and Honorable Mentions went to Hunter Raboin and Evan Buteau.
“This year’s prompt provided civic education and development of critical thinking skills,” Post 10 Youth Chair Richard Vaughn conveyed. “The judges were impressed with the prompt and thoughtful results.”
To date the essay contest has generated more than 160 essays with many students earning part of the $1,200 total awarded for their citizen efforts. According to a Post 10 press release “essay writing is valuable as part of a TEAMS educational program, and civic education is important to the future of America. American Legion Fitchburg Post 10 supports students.”
In addition, Post 10 supports the Massachusetts American Legion’s Boys and Girls State program, which has developed leaders and promoted the country’s democratic system for more than 70 years. Post 10 and other American Legion posts around the state select students to be a part of the prestigious program and offer scholarships to participants as part of the post’s STAR Mentoring program.
“There has been an increase in the success of the participants regarding college and scholarship applications and informal mentoring as part of the program,” Vaughn shared.
Rachel Lanni Poirier, a member of Girls State 2013, FHS 2014 graduate, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute 2018 graduate posted she passed the state bar exam in February and Simmons University graduate Alaina Valcourt Filiau, also a 2013 Girls State citizen, celebrated earning her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.
Vaughn, who has been mentoring youth locally for 20 years, said this is the 15th year he has promoted the STAR Mentoring Program “and the results have been amazing,” a way “to try and get positive student accomplishments recognized.”