Patriot’s Pen winners recognized

Post date: Dec 11, 2015 11:48:50 AM

In a ceremony honoring veterans with Wreaths Across America and Wells Junior High School students and staff present at Ocean View Cemetery on December 7th, six WJHS students were recognized for their writings and placement in the VFW’s Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest for 2015. All six received a framed certificate awarded to them by WJHS Principal Chris Chessie and ELA 8th grade teacher Julie Esch.

Patriots Pen is a national contest sponsored locally by VFW Post 6545 and Post Commander Ken Kingsley in Kennebunk. Interested 6th through 8th grade students write about their own interpretation of a provided central theme. This year’s theme was, "What Does Freedom Mean to Me?”.

Those from WJHS placing in the contest included eighth grade student Ashleigh Bolduc who received 2nd place and seventh grader Natalie Hanagan who received 3rd place. Students receiving honorable mention included Sophie Killam (6th grade), Grace Bradish (8th grade), Hannah Bradish (8th grade), and Katie Plourde (8th grade). These young writers are students of teachers Mary Rand, Marilyn Zotos and Julie Esch.

“The essays written this year conveyed a lot of emotion, and the student writers did a nice job of describing the constitutional rights ─namely freedoms─ that make our country so special,” commented teacher Esch. “Many student writers have familial military ties; others are simply grateful for the men and women who protect, help, and safeguard their freedoms, past and present. I love this essay because it helps kids feel connected to something bigger than themselves; the written pieces and the connection they provide is well worth the effort.”

Shortly after the wreath ceremony, the Wreaths Across America convoy departed WJHS on its journey to Arlington, Virginia with thousands of holiday wreaths to be placed at gravesites in Arlington National Cemetery and elsewhere.

According to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) website (, 125,000 6th through 8th grade students enter the Patriot’s Pen contest each year.

Patriot Pen essayists and teachers: From left to right in the first row are Hannah Bradish, Katie Plourde, Grace Bradish and Natalie Hanagan. Top row (l to r) are Julie Esch, Ashleigh Bolduc, Sophie Killam, Marilyn Zotos Mary Rand.