New London’s American Legion Auxiliary Norris Spencer Post 263 and the New London High School Freshmen Academy teamed up for the ALA Americanism Essay Contest.
The annual writing contest, sponsored by American Legion Auxiliary posts throughout the United States, engages students to consider a posed question and to compose a well-written essay.
This year’s question was “What does freedom mean to my family?”
New London ninth graders brainstormed ideas in their American & Global Studies classes with the assistance of teachers Brian Mathu and Kris Dalen-Bard. After writing their 450-500 word draft essays, students shared their Google documents and peers edited each other’s work in their English 9 classes, led by teachers Candace Eisch-Groebner and Joanna Ledgerwood.
Ultimately, the top 25 essays were submitted to the American Legion Auxiliary. Auxiliary members then read the essays, considered the merits of each student’s ideas, and determined the top ten essays.
This year’s top 10 essays were written by Briana Barrington, Reegan Franzmeier, Jessica Gregory, Tommy Grove, Sage Hansen, Sommer Harris, Casey Melendes, Elizabeth Radke, Adam Steckbauer, and Josie Tuchscherer. Students were awarded certificates commending them for their achievements.
From those 10, the American Legion Auxiliary members chose the top three: Grove (3rd place), Barrington (2nd place), and Harris (1st place). As the winner of the local contest, Harris’ entry was additionally entered into the statewide contest.
“Freedom is a gift and it is what allows us to be different,” wrote Harris in her essay. “Freedom gave us choices of what we want to do.”
She added, “It was not easy to get. People lost their lives so we can have freedom. They gave us something more precious than anything you can buy. They gave us freedom. We have to be strong so that we can protect it.”
This was the second year of the partnership between the New London Freshmen Academy and the American Legion Auxiliary.
“Our American & Global Studies civic curriculum is a perfect match for the mission of both the American Legion and its Auxiliary units,” Mathu said. “We have long teamed with them for County Youth Government Day. The Americanism Essay Contest is another example of how the school community and local community groups can complement one another.”
Mathu and the Freshmen Academy appreciate all of the Auxiliary members who read and rated the submitted essays. Marla Knuettel provided a leadership role in organizing the local contest.