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1/16/2013 2:33:00 PM
Three St. Mary School students place in local essay contest
St. Mary School photo
Natalie Caudel, Ethan Lulay and Eric Reynolds
St. Mary School photo
Natalie Caudel, Ethan Lulay and Eric Reynolds

STAYTON — Each November, the Santiam Valley Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #5638 here sponsors the Patriot’s Pen youth essay competition. The submitted essays are all original articles based on a theme.

This year the contestants were asked to use the theme “Who were the founding fathers?” and “What would you tell them?” using 300 to 400 words.

The St. Mary school winners include eighth grader Natalie Caudel of Stayton who won first place, eighth grader Ethan Lulay of Stayton who won second place and seventh grader Eric Reynolds of Aumsville who won third place.

The essays were submitted and judged in November by six Santiam Valley VFW Post judges, including one retired school principal and retired English teacher.

“I love seeing the children compete for money that will go toward education,” says local VFW member George Stein. “I want all the kids from our schools to do well.”

All area middle school students are eligible to participate, including home-schooled children. This year, 63 St. Mary students from sixth, seventh and eight grades participated. The school’s first place contestant received $50, second place $25 and third place a U.S. flag and certificate. Each school’s top three contestants attended the local VFW post's meeting in December at the Stayton Fire Hall.

St. Mary language arts teacher Mary Barrett said, “I wanted our students to participate to help them become more reflective about the blessings we take for granted. This project seemed particularly valuable considering this was an election year.”

This month, the first place winners of every school will compete in a district-wide contest. From there all the district winners will compete at the state level. The state champion will win an all-expense paid trip for them and family to Washington D.C. to compete on a national level. National winners are awarded savings bonds toward college; first place receives $10,000.

For more information on the Patriot’s Pen, contact Santiam Valley Post VFW representative George Stein at 503.949.2290. For St. Mary, contact Principal Rick Schindler at 503-769-2718.

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