Beatriz Sanchez Pacios
Winners of the Patriot’s Pen and Voice of Democracy essay contests were officially recognized at the Annual VFW Post 1638 Awards Banquet on Saturday, Jan. 28.
The top 15 Patriot’s Pen contestants received their certificates and prizes. The Patriot’s Pen top three winners were Courtney J. Schneider, 7th grade, PRMS, first place; Grace Koehler, 7th grade, PRMS, second place; and Madison M. Strand, 8th grade, St. John, third place.
Rounding out the top 15 were: 4th place, Alicia Humphrey, 8th grade, St. John; 5th place, Christian Weix, 6th grade, Home School; 6th place, Nicole E. Zoellner, 8th grade, PRMS; 7th place, Faith Weix, 6th grade, Home School; 8th place, Gaven Reindl, 7th grade, St. Francis; 9th place, Isaiah Rell, 6th grade, St. Francis; 10th place, Sawyer Schmitz, 8th grade, PRMS; 11th place, Samuel Johns, 7th grade, PRMS; 12th place, Jordyn Leopold, 7th grade, Trinity; 13th place, Zoey Parrett, 7th grade, Trinity; 14th place, Aiden Krzanowski, 7th grade, PRMS; 15th place, Lydia McIntyre, 7th grade, PRMS.
Courtney, the daughter of Tasha Gleason and Tim & Naomi Schneider, was surprised to find out she had won.
“I went to school one day and my teacher told me I placed, but she didn’t tell me what place I’d made. So, at the assembly when they said I got first place, I was astonished.”
Courtney found her inspiration in her grandfather, who was in the Air Force.
Grace is the daughter of Jessica & Michael Koehler. She was inspired by her parents, her teachers, classmates and many other people.
Madison is the daughter of Jennifer Jaeger & Steve Strand. She said she was inspired by, “My teachers, they push us to respect veterans, and respect the rights that we are given from them, and my parents also pushed me too.”
Following distribution of awards, Courtney, Grace and Madison read their respective essays aloud to those in attendance.
The five winners of the Voice of Democracy essay were Zach Weix, 12th grade, Home School, first place; Rachel Weix, 10th grade, Home School, second place; Elizabeth Weix, 12th grade, MHS, third place; Emily Weix, 10th grade, MHS, fourth place; and Trista Rathke, 12th grade, MHS, fifth place.
Zach is the son of Joseph and Lisa Weix, and lists his parents as his inspiration.
“They always made sure we learned to pay back what people have done for you,” he said.
Rachel Weix, daughter of Joseph and Lisa Weix, said, “I’ve always been around people that have taught me to love and respect my country.”
Elizabeth Weix, daughter of Michael and Alicia Weix, was inspired by her first opportunity to participate in the democratic process.
“I recently turned 18 and was eligible to vote,” she said. “I knew it was my responsibility to America to research the candidates and choose the one best suited to run our country.”
Emily Weix, daughter of Michael and Alicia Weix, was asked what inspired her essay. She responded, “It’s my responsibility to America to be the best person I can be. We as a nation need to help those in need, especially veterans.”
Trista is the daughter of Michelle and John Rathke. She was inspired by her family.
“Both my parents were in the military and pretty much my whole family, so they kind of inspired this,” she said.
“In regard to the Voice of Democracy Contest, we always receive high quality essays,” said contest coordinator Aicia Weix. “We would love more entries. We generally receive between five and 12 essays per year. Winners receive monetary gifts at the local and district level. At the National level, a student can win a $30,000 college scholarship.”
The essay contests are sponsored locally by Merrill VFW Post 1638 and its Auxiliary. A total of 235 written essays were submitted and were judged Nov. 5, 2016.
Fifteen students from Merrill advanced to 7th District judging resulting in three District winners. First place went to Madison Strand; Prairie River Middle School student Lydia McIntyre placed second; and Prairie River Middle School student Sawyer Schmitz placed third.
As the first place winner, Strand advanced to the state competition in Madison, where she won first place and advanced to the national competition. That judging has not been completed.