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Central Plains students receive awards for essays
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Central Plains Middle School-Bushton students in 6-8th grade recently participated in the VFWs Patriots Pen essay contest. Pictured above were the winners in each grade; and teachers, Sandy Barton, far left, and VFW member Red Meier and Susan Weber, far right. - photo by KAREN LA PIERRE

BUSHTON — Central Plains Middle School students recently wrote an essay on “What Patriotism Means to Me?” as part of the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Patriots Pen essay contest.
The Patriot’s Pen is a national contest for 6-8th graders. Winners of the national contest receive scholarships.
Red Meier, member of the Claflin VFW, coordinated the local contest. He said he was really surprised at the essays and thought it was beyond fantastic that 64 students participated.
“The essays were fantastic,” he said. “They opened the eyes of the older generation. (Students) had to do a lot of research. They just blew my mind.”
The judges were area residents.
An awards ceremony was recently for the students in Bushton. All sixty-four middle school students participated in the contest, and the top four essays were sent on to the district contest.
“Our social studies teacher took it on as a class assignment,” said Marilyn Etchison, school counselor. “(Students ) all wrote and came up with some good thoughts.”
Susan Weber is the 6-8th grade social studies teacher, and English teacher Sandra Barton also helped.
“I decided to take on this project for two reasons,” said Weber. “First, I was able to incorporate it into Constitution Day activities.  Each class brainstormed about the freedoms guaranteed to us by the Constitution and about things that made the students feel patriotic.  Second, it met the criteria of a Common Core activity because it was a cross-curricular project between Social Studies and Language Arts classes.”
The students wrote about Sept. 11, 2001, and people who take their hats off an don’t mess around during the Pledge of Allegiance and the Star Spangled Banner. One also spoke about the Constitution and freedom for all races of people. Another said, “Here in America, I can worship wherever, whenever and however I want to because I have that freedom of choice.”
Student Nathan Bitter wrote, “ To me patriotism means people who fight and die for our country, people who love our country and are not afraid to show it.”
First place winners were Delaney Rugan, sixth grade; Blake Gorton, 7th grade; and Nathan Bitter, eighth grade and Lee Letourneau, eighth grade. They each received a $50 gift certificate.
Second place winners were Blake Likes, sixth grade, Brianna Hickel, 7th grade and Jacob McAtee, eighth grade. They each received a $35 gift certificate.
Third place winners were Emily Ryan, sixth grade, Ethan Strong, 7th grade and Hannah Beran, eighth grade. They each received a $20 gift certificate.