Brier Elementary students win 4th and 5th grade contests in VFW Post 8870 essay contest

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All of the winners, accompanied by family members and VFW Post 8870 Commander Mike Denton, center, pose with their certificiates. (Photo courtesy VFW Post 8870)

At its Jan. 17 meeting, Edmonds VFW Post 8870 recognized students who were 2017 winners of VFW’s three annual essay contests.

All winners received framed certificates and cash prizes of $100 for first place and $50 for the runners-up.

The theme for this year’s elementary school contest was “What Does a Veteran Mean to Me?” The contest was open to all public, private, and home-schooled elementary school students in the Edmonds and Mukilteo school districts in grades 3, 4, and 5. Winners advanced to district competition, culminating at the state level.

There was no 3rd grade winner this year and the 4th and 5th grader contests were a clean sweep for Brier Elementary School. This year’s winning essay for 4th grade was submitted by Brier’s Sara Ambachew and the runner-up was Brianna Reyes. At the 5th grade level the winner was Cole Harris and the runner-up was Nikolas Lopez.

For middle school students in the two districts, the contest is called Patriot’s Pen and it culminates at the national level. It is open to all middle school students in grades 6, 7, and 8 and the theme for this year’s contest was “America’s Gift to My Generation.” The winning entry was submitted by Mohuwa Wahid, a student at Mukilteo’s Explorer Middle School.

Edmonds-Woodway High School senior Olivia Olson once again took first-place honors in both the local and district Voice of Democracy contest. While two contests for younger students requires a written essay, the Voice of Democracy is an oral competition requiring the submission of an audio recording. This year’s topic was “American History: Our Hope for the Future.” You can see her complete essay below. Lara Wahid of Kamiak High School was runner-up.

In addition, Olivia Olson received a special honor during the Jan. 17 meeting: She was presented with a portrait of herself, drawn by Edmonds artist Michael Reagan, Vietnam-era Marine and war veteran and world-renowned portrait artist living in Edmonds. You can see more details in a related story here.

According to Olivia’s mother Vivian Olson, who attended the presentation, “Michael credited Olivia with having had words that matter, caring, passion and meaningful involvement with the veteran community during the years he has known her, having met her at a similar post meeting when she won her first contest six years ago.”

“I am unbelievably grateful and overwhelmed,” Olivia Olson said of the presentation and gift.

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