Some 300 young people from the Central Peninsula submitted essays last fall in the VFW's Youth Essay scholarship program on the theme, "Is Freedom Really Free?" After a panel of local judges selected the winners, those essays were sent on to the state level of competition.
For the first time since the Jerry V. Horn Memorial VFW Post 10046 and Ladies Auxiliary in Soldotna has been sponsoring the scholarship program the local winners swept all three top places at the state level.
Amber Hall, an 8th grade home school student took the top State honors and a $500 U.S. Savings Bond from the Department of Alaska Veterans of Foreign Wars, plus a $50 check from the Ladies Auxiliary. Amber comes from a family that has homesteaded in America for six generations starting in Oklahoma and Minnesota, her great-grandparents and grand parents homesteaded on the Kenai Peninsula, and her parents at Lake Louise, "I entered because I wanted to honor the veterans of our local area and my country," said Hall.
Her essay was advanced to the national level where she placed 8th in the nation out of 54 entries, the highest place ever awarded to an Alaskan at the national level of competition.
Tatiana Butler, a Connections student from Nikiski, took second place state honors and a $300 Savings Bond, and Trevor Kauffman, an 8th grade student at Aurora Borealis Charter School took third place and a bond in the amount of $200.
All three students were honored by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, Borough Mayor Dale Bagley, and Soldotna City Mayor David Carey at last weeks Assembly meeting. "We're all very proud of you, congratulations on the first statewide sweep ever, and best wishes on making all your hopes and dreams come true," said Mayor Carey.
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