Willem Hoyles has won this year’s “Patriot’s Pen” essay competition with his essay “The Luxury of Freedom.”
Runners-up were Kaylee Swank, Morgan Schull and Moira Elliot.
Hoyles, Swank, Schull, Elliot and their families were honored during a luncheon at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8736 last Sunday afternoon.
Every year, Big Walnut Middle School eighth-grade students have the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. One of the most memorable experiences of their visit is to witness the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
For years, eighth-grade students have represented the Big Walnut community’s appreciation to those who gave the ultimate price while serving their country by placing a Big Walnut wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
Students earn that right by participating in Patriot’s Pen, a nationwide VFW essay competition.
“In September of 2009, VFW Post 8736 Auxiliary member Joan Pickett invited us to participate in the VFW’s Patriot’s Pen essay contest, and since then we have established and maintained a strong partnership,” said middle school eighth-grade language arts teacher Mike McGann. “As a result, over 2,000 Big Walnut students have written an essay about patriotism, 28 students have been chosen by VFW Post 8736 to place a Big Walnut wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, and around $5,000 in scholarship money has been awarded.”
McGann said winning essays are not based on a letter grade for correct writing skills, but are based on the meaning behind the writing.
“The VFW has provided our students with an authentic writing experience,” McGann said. “Our eighth-graders are not just writing for themselves or their teachers; they are writing for our local heroes.”
Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.