By Peter Day
Kaylie Quintero, a Lucerne Valley middler schooler, was presented a check for $400 by Lisa Kulju and Herald Keesee of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5551 for her winning essay, “Why I Honor The American Flag.” With her mother, Sadie Davis, and school officials in attendance, Kaylie was given the scholarship during Ms. Naomi Oyadomari’s first period history class on Tuesday, January 8.
The essay was the local winning entry for VFW’s Patriot’s Pen national competition for 6th through 8th grades. Fifteen local students submitted essays for the contest. Following her district win, Kaylie’s essay will be submitted for competition on the state level. In March, the national first-place winner will be named and receive a $5,000 award. More than 132,000 students competed in last year’s Patriot’s Pen competition.
“This is truly important for our school and our veterans,” said Peter Livingston, superintendent of the Lucerne Valley Unified School District. Mr. Livingston was joined by Lucerne Valley Middle High School Principal Nate Lambdin and Assistant Principal Kelly Boeing in celebrating Kaylie’s accomplishment during the VFW’s scholarship presentation. Afterward, Kaylie called her father on her mother’s cell phone to share the exciting news. She also posed for photos with her classmates and dignitaries.
Besides the Patriot’s Pen essay competition, the VFW presents the Voice of Democracy audio essay competition, which is open to all students in grades 9-12. The top prize is a $30,000 scholarship. Altogether, the VFW gives $3 million in scholarships annually.
Founded in 1899, the organization has nearly 1.7 million VFW and Auxiliary members in 50 states and several foreign countries. The VFW helps secure funding for programs and services for veterans, service members and their families. It also has helps to ensure health care for veterans, expand woman’s health care services at VA medical centers, work with Congress to reduce suicide, fight to sustain G.I. Bill benefits and much more.
Post #5551 is located at 31861 Highway 18, Lucerne Valley. For more information on the local post, call 760-248-7484. To learn more about the national VFW organization, visit www.vfw.org.
Peter Day currently is a social media advisor for the Lucerne Valley Unified School District.
Photo #1 - Middle school student Kaylie Quintero, second from left, holds her $400 scholarship check she received from VFW Post #5551. Also pictured, from left, Lisa Kulju, Herald Keesee and Ms. Naomi Oyadomari.
Photo #2 - Essay winner Kaylie Quintero, center, is joined by other Patriot's Pen essay writers, VFW post representatives and Principal Mr. Nate Lambdin and Superintendent Mr. Peter Livingston.
Photos #3 - VFW Post #5551 representatives Lisa Kulju, center, and Herald Keesee, right, present the $400 scholarship check to winner Kaylie Quintero.