Fleet Reserve Association Sierra Tahoe Branch 137 members pride themselves on the services and reach they provide to veterans and active duty military members, as well as a variety of other programs throughout the community.
Once a year that reach extends to younger people challenging them to look deeper into the things that make America the country that it is through the organization’s annual essay contest.
“We had eight winning essays from six different schools this year,” FRA member and essay chairman Bud Harris said. “I thought it was wonderful.”
This year students from Douglas, Carson, Whittell, and Yerington high schools and Eagle Valley and Carson Valley middle schools participated in the contest, explaining what the United States flag stands for.
The contest is open to students in grades 7-12, which includes home-school students.
“We received 50 essays this year,” Harris said. “This year was a good rejuvenating year for us. Last year we only got essays back from Yerington. We decided last year that we weren’t going to do the contest anymore unless we got some serious interest in it.”
Harris and another member personally delivered letters to each school in the surrounding area, in an effort to put some wind back into the contest’s sails.
The legwork paid off for the essay committee, as essays were received from first-time participants.
“What was the most rewarding to me was that we got on essay from ASPIRE and then one from Carson Valley Middle School, and a really good eighth-grade essay out of Eagle Valley Middle School,” Harris said. “Those are two middles schools we’ve never gotten essays from. Usually our essay submissions center around 12th grade. This year we got enough submissions for the other age levels.”
All 50 essays were read by a panel of five judges that whittled the group down to the top five for each age group.
The judges then discussed each essay until unanimous decisions about the winners were made.
“I really enjoy the interchange of communication between the judges and negotiating with them to get them all in on one essay,” Harris said.
Essay winners were honored at a luncheon last Saturday.
The participants were presented with certificates, and cash prizes as well as graphically-embossed cards.
All of the cash prizes were raised from FRA’s bingo games, and direct contributions to the club.
Winners of the local contest are being forwarded to the FRA West Coast Regional Office.
If any of the essays are chosen as winners at the regional level they will advance to the national contest for a chance to win $5,000.
“This year members of the branch are hopeful that at least one of our competing students will receive a national award,” Harris said.
The theme for next year’s essay is, “what Memorial Day means to me.”
For more information about the essay visit www.fra.org/essay.