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On Thursday, March 31, 2022, the Veteran of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Auxiliary went to Shellsburg Elementary School to present the 4th and 5th graders with their essay awards for the 2021-2022 year. We were able to join Shellsburg Elementary in their assembly. For the last two years, we couldn't join the assembly because of COVID. Those years the awards were passed along to the teachers to be presented to the students in their classes. The teachers shared pictures of the students and awards with the VFW and Auxiliary. We were grateful to be back in person.

Principal, Mr. Davis started the assembly with students singing their school song. He then introduced the veterans in attendance. Dale Henry, VFW Post 8884 Commander welcomed the special guests. Department of Iowa CFW Sr. Vice, Ron Leber and his wife Maria drove to Vinton from Perry, Iowa to present the awards to the students.

Commander Dale Henry introduced the VFW Auxiliary 8884 President and Department of Iowa VFW Auxiliary President 2021-2022, Jeanette Henry. Jeanette works with teachers and staff to write their essays for the year. Each student receives a certificate with their essay laminated together. The students also receive a wristband indicating that they are a participant in the contest and include the words, "Vinton-Shellsburg" on the band.

The top students in each grade then receive a place medal with their name engraved on the back along with their teacher's name as well as "Sponsored by VFW Aux 8884." VFW Auxiliary member Donna Roepke makes a donation toward the purchase of these medals, laminating sheets and wrist bands for the students. Donna and her husband Don have provided this for the students for many years. Even as Don's health began to fail, he instructed Donna to continue to provide this for the students because these students are our future. The Roepke's also donated toward The Voice of Democracy Essay Contest for the High School Students.

There were a total of 94 students in the 4th Grade between Tilford and Shellsburg Elementary who wrote essays. Their theme was, "My Favorite Patriotic Holiday."

There were 61 Shellsburg Elementary 5th Graders who also wrote essays on the topic, "I am proud to be an American because..." The teachers received the titles for the essays before the end of the school year. When school begins the teachers explain to the students the topic and the students then write their essays.

Around Veteran's Day, the essays are turned in to the VFW Auxiliary 8884. Community members are then selected to judge the essays. Our thanks to Brenda Hackbarth and Toni Parzek for their help this year.

This marks the 10th year that students wrote their essays. Of the 155 students, the following students placed 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. All of the students wrote wonderful essays!

4th Grade

1st Place

Emrey Paige of 94 students at the local level. She advanced on to the District 2 competitions and won 2nd Place. Both her parents and grandparents were able to be present at the awards ceremony. Her teacher is Mrs. Patterson in Shellsburg Elementary.

2nd Place

Parker Stein, Tilford Elementary. His teacher is Mrs. Haisman.

3rd Place

Ian Schminke, his teacher is Mrs. Kohl at Shellsburg Elementary.

5th Grade

1st Place

Caleb Humiston of 61 student entries. He placed 1st at the Local Level, 1st Place at the District 2 Level, and 3rd Place at the State Level. In total, he received 3 medals and 3 certificates. His parents were also present for the awards. Caleb's sister Victoria also placed 3rd at the State Competition in the Voice of Democracy competition for our VFW essay competition in the same year. This is the first time the local VFW chapter has had two state essay winners from the same family in the same year!

Caleb is in Mrs. Heth's class at Shellsburg Elementary.

2nd Place

Sabrina Westra, her teacher is Mrs. Heth at Shellsburg Elementary.

3rd Place

Henry Heims, his teacher is Mrs. Heth at Shellsburg Elementary.

All students did a great job writing their essays. Thanks to the teachers and staff at both VS Elementary Schools for your support of our essay programs.

Tilford will be receiving their 4th-grade essay awards on Monday, April 11 from 1:45 to 2:15 p.m. The teachers will also receive a certificate and key chain in appreciation from the VFW Auxiliary 8884.

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