HOMER WILLIAMS VFW POST 8720 -
RECOGNITION OF 2013 WINNERS
National Citizenship Education Teacher
Award Winners - Annually,
the Veterans of Foreign Wars recognizes the top classroom elementary, junior
high and high school teachers who instill patriotism and promote citizenship
effectively. Competition starts at a local Post, then District, State and
National level. National winners receive
$1,000 and $1,000 for their school plus an all-expenses-paid trip to attend the
National VFW Conference.
The Homer Williams Post 8720 in Abita Springs had a
winner in each of the 3 grade levels who have won at both the Post and District
levels. Announcement of the State
Winners will be in January.
Our K-5th grade winner is Amy Gagnon from Woodlake
Elementary. Amy teaches students
with severe disabilities. She focuses on
their strengths and ensures their dignity is never compromised. Along with her
responsibility to her students
and their families, she raises awareness and educates others at school and in
the community to learn acceptance and tolerance of people with differences.
She founded Pelican Pals where typical students buddy
with her disabled students allowing them to be more involved in school
Our 6-8th grade winner is Ben Hartman from Mandeville
Middle School. Ben teaches 6th grade math,
science and social studies classes. He is a sponsor for their Student Council
and very active in patriotic activities such as organizing the flag squad and
flag etiquette classes, organizing monthly food drives for the local food bank,
assisting in the Veterans Day program, teaching civic responsibilities and
creating lessons for the teachers about the election process.
Our 9-12th grade winner is Ben Haindel from Northlake Christian School.
Ben has been involved several years with both VFW’s Scholarship contests
- Voice of Democracy (VOD) and
Patriot’s Pen Essay contests. Annually,
they have over 200 students write an original essay according to VFW’s annual
themes. The history teachers score the
essays and select the highest ones to be recorded for the VOD contest.
Ben prepares the recorded CDs and serves as a liaison between the school
and our Post. We had 15 VOD and 5 Patriot Pen entries this year. Over the last 7 years, NCS students have won the VOD
contest four times and the Patriot’s Pen essay contest, 2 times. Ben teaches
Bible study and American
Government/Politics, is the Director of Camp Northlake and facilitates NCS’s Leadership Council.
Voice of Democracy Winners –
VFW’s premier scholarship program is the Voice of Democracy contest. It
is open to students in grade 9-12. Each year more than 50,000 students compete
for more than $2.3 million in scholarships and incentives. Students compete
by writing and recording a
broadcast script on an annual patriotic theme.
This year’s theme is Why I’m
Optimistic About our Nation’s Future.
We had 22 entries at our Post level. The top three Post winners are Anna Jones (1st place), a
freshman at Northlake Christian School;
Ada Tusa (2nd place) a
junior at Mandeville
High School; Alexandra Cloutet (3rd
place) is a senior at Mandeville High
Patriot’s Pen Essay Contest Winners - Students
in grades 6-8 compete for one of 46
national awards ranging from $5,000 to $500 by writing an essay on the annual
theme. This year’s theme is What Patriotism
Means to Me. Again competition is at four levels - Post,
District, State, National. Our first place winner, Andrew Monson is currently
competing at the State level. The State winner will be announced in January. Andrew is a 6th grade student at Our
Lady of the Lake School. Sean
Noel, a 6th grade student at Tchefuncte Middle School won 2nd
Stewart, a 6th grade student at Northlake Christian
School won 3rd