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Two young island writers win national honors
Bainbridge Island has long boasted considerable writing talent. And it seems that the ink hasn’t run dry for young islanders with a thing or two to say.
American Legion Auxiliary Unit 172 recently participated in the National American Legion essay contest, a competition that encourages young students to write about their country. This year’s essay topic was “What freedom do I enjoy the most?”
Bainbridge Island’s young essayists came forth with plenty to say and made an impression on judges in Washington, D.C. Two islanders came away with honors: Sonoji Sakai Intermediate sixth-grader Ethan Soltanzadeh, and Saint Cecilia Catholic School eighth-grader Colleen Campbell.
“This is the first year we’ve actually participated in the essay contest and we get two winners!” said Cindy McCarthy, member at large for the American Legion’s Auxiliary Unit 172.
McCarthy presented the awards to the students — along with a little award money — at an assembly on Friday, June 7 at St. Cecilia.
Colleen was the grand prize winner for Class III of the Western Division, which consisted of seventh- and eighth-grade students. She received $50 for herself and an additional $50 was donated to the Children of Warriors National President’s Scholarship Fund.
Colleen wrote her essay on the freedom of religion.
“No one feels like their government is restricting what they can do because religion is important to people,” she said. “And it’s also nice because you get to talk to people with different views. There’s more diversity.”
Colleen learned to scuba dive this year and plans to use her award money to buy gear.
Ethan wrote about the freedom of speech and was surprised when he received an honorable mention for his essay.
“I was just looking for extra credit in social studies, and my mom made me do it,” he said. “But then it went farther than that.”
Ethan received a check for $35 and he said he plans to save the money.
Colleen’s teacher, Amy Leedespard, also received a certificate of appreciation for her support of the American Legion essay contest.