Jalen Blackwell Places Third in Maryland Essay Contest
Each year local VFW posts hold three essay competitions, the Voice of Democracy for grades 9-12, the Patriots Pen for grades 6-8, and the Youth Essay for grades 3-5. Students write essays based on given patriotic themes and the essays are evaluated by members of the local community. Sixth-grade student, Jalen Blackwell recently participated in the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. Patriot's Pen Essay Contest. His submitted theme, How can I be a good American?, placed second out of 53 submissions at the local level and was then submitted to the competitive district level, where he won first place and an invitation to attend the prestigious Department of Maryland VFW and its Auxiliary Patriotic Youth Scholarships and Teacher of the Year Awards. Approximately 430 entries from students across the state attended the awards presentation. Jalen was one of 11 state finalists and won third place overall.
“My essay was inspired by what I have been taught at Gerstell about being a leader and having good character," said Jalen. "I believe what Gerstell teaches about being a good student are the same qualities I need to be a good American.”