Students celebrate patriotism and veterans

Helena Intermediate School fifth grade winners of the Cahaba Valley Elks Lodge Americanism Essay Contest stood with Elks member Sharon Gaydon. More than 1,200 fifth through eighth graders from Shelby County and Hoover schools participated in this year's contest. (Contributed)

Helena Intermediate School fifth grade winners of the Cahaba Valley Elks Lodge Americanism Essay Contest stood with Elks member Sharon Gaydon. More than 1,200 fifth through eighth graders from Shelby County and Hoover schools participated in this year’s contest. (Contributed)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

PELHAM—The Cahaba Valley Elks Lodge No. 1738 recognized participants and winners of their annual Americanism Essay Contest.

More than 1,200 fifth through eighth graders from Shelby County and Hoover schools participated in this year’s contest, expressing their patriotism through their answers to the assigned question, “What does Veterans Day mean to me?”

The students were asked to respond to the question in a 250-word essay. Essays were evaluated by members of the Cahaba Valley Elks Lodge for their originality, development of theme and writing mechanics, Lodge No. 1738 member Sharon Gaydon explained.

“Our members participate in reading each and every essay,” Gaydon said. “They take this responsibility very seriously.”

Two winners from each class were recognized with a coin set and each participant was given a certificate acknowledging their patriotism. Helena Intermediate fifth grade student Keely Busby advanced to take first place at the state-level essay competition.

“The students enjoy the recognition,” Gaydon said.

Although an optional assignment, many schools incorporated the essay contest into the curriculum or tied it to Veterans Day activities.

“Forest Oaks chose to incorporate this assignment into their Social Studies and English classes,” Gaydon said, noting the school hosted veterans to speak with students. “(Other schools) connected the assignment to their Veterans Day activities at school.”

The American Essay Contest is just one of many programs the Elks sponsor to promote patriotism and good citizenship among students.

“Our organization promotes patriotic programs at many levels,” Gaydon said. “Our goal is to constantly promote patriotic activities. Patriotism at all ages is important.”

The Cahaba Valley Elks are sponsoring Pelham’s sixth annual Flag Day celebration on June 14 at the Pelham Civic Complex and Ice Arena. In addition to celebrating our country, honoring members of the military and veterans and providing information about the history of the flag , this year’s celebration will also recognize the 200th anniversary of the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

All are encouraged to attend the Flag Day celebration. Admission is free and festivities begin at 2 p.m. For more information, call 365-2268.