When the students of San Juan Del Rio School decided to participate in the first annual Patriotic Essay and Poster Contest little did they know what an adventure it would be. The contest sponsored by the 4th Degree Sir Knights of Knights of Columbus Ave Maria Assembly 3008 at San Juan Del Rio Catholic Church was begun to help commemorate Veterans’ Day during the annual fall festival.
The assignment was for the students to express their feelings on patriotism and what it means to be a United States citizen. “What Patriotism Means to Me” was the theme for the posters. The poster portion of the contest was divided into two groups., one group was for grades 1 and 2 with the second group for grades 3 and 4. The essay portion of the contest was similarly divided by grades with 5 and 6 in a group and 7 and 8 in a separate grouping. The theme for the essays was “Patriotism: A Students Perspective”.
Teacher Ashley Bradley from SJDR School created the rules and judging criteria. Judging was done by five veteran Sir Knights from Ave Maria Assembly. Who found that the students were very talented and expressive in their essays and posters. The judging was challenging to say the least. They were all that good. The winners were finally chosen with poster grades 1 and 2 being 1st Place Caroline Rice, 2nd Place Zack Stokes and 3rd Place going to Lily Lupinski. The poster grades 3 and 4 winners were 1st Place Nicholas Bradley, 2nd Place Matthew Bradley and 3rd Place Melissa Davis. All the posters were very artistic and creative. In the essay portion the winners in grades 5 and 6 were Michael Munder, 2nd Place Christine Sullivan and 3rd Place went to Philip Chappano. In grades 7 and 8 the winners were Victoria Canon, 2nd Place Katie Horan and 3rd Place Emma Davis. The essays were superb and made the judges proud of all the entrants.
The first exciting event on the winning students’ adventure was when the Sir Knights of Ave Maria Assembly awarded the trophies and certificates to the winners. The award ceremony was performed as part of the Flag Ceremony for Veterans’ Day at the fall festival. The students were surrounded by the Knights dressed in full regalia and the flowing flags as the Assembly Color Corp performed their presenting of the flags.
The real surprise though was when the students were invited to read their essays to the residents of the Clyde E. Lassen Veterans’ Nursing Home the following Saturday. Ave Maria Assembly through a cake and punch party for the residents and students. The winners all displayed and explained their posters with the essay winners each reading their essay. The residents were a great audience and the kids had a great time showing off their creativity and meeting some real heroes of our country.
The whole essay and poster contest was such a resounding success that it will become an annual event. It is an event that will be looked forward to by not only the students but those who deserve our appreciation for their service to patriotism.