Just in time for Veterans Day, State Sen. John F. Curran (R-Downers Grove) announced the winners of his first Veterans Day Essay Contest, which he opened up to all seventh graders in the 41st Senate District.
“I was so impressed by the number of students who participated and their incredible stories,” said Curran. “It meant a lot to involve local veterans in the judging process. Any opportunity to connect our young people with veterans and active military is a valuable and humbling experience. I hope to do more programs and activities that promote a greater appreciation for veterans’ service and remind us all what Veterans Day is about.”
This week, Curran announced the five winners, as follows: first place, Marieclaire Popernik of LaGrange Highlands Middle School; second place, Amanda Colip of Lakeview Junior High School; third place, Francesca Fonte of LaGrange Highlands Middle School; and fourth place, in a tie, Eric Wahl and Sam Weiland of LaGrange Highlands Middle School. Curran also recognized five honorable mentions: Maeve McDougal, Alexanger Gojkovich, Grace Gleason, Vanessa Rodriguez and Peter Kyriazis, all from LaGrange Highlands Middle School.
Popernik, the first place winner, is invited to Springfield to join Curran as his Page for a Day on a 2018 Spring Legislative Session Day, and her winning essay will be featured in the annual Veterans Day Display at the State Capitol this month. All runners up will receive Certificates of Recognition from the Senator for their tremendous achievement.
For the contest, 92 students from three area schools submitted essays describing a time they demonstrated courage—in honor of the bravery and sacrifice members of the Armed Forces demonstrate every day.
Curran selected a panel of six judges, all former members of the U.S. military who reside in his district. The panel included Army veterans David Wisbrock, Staci McDonald and Pete Kacinski; Airforce veterans Robert Kingsbury and Ashleigh Thomas; and Marines veteran Jeff Adams.
The Veterans Day Display is showing in the State Capitol Rotunda from today until November 13. The display includes photographs and tributes of veterans, as well as Veterans Day Essay contest first place winners.