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Area students earn honors for essays on America

Caroline T. Huttreads her Voice Democracy Youth Essay Sunday Carpentersville VFW. | ErSauder photo

Caroline T. Hutton reads her Voice of Democracy Youth Essay Sunday at the Carpentersville VFW. | Erin Sauder photo

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Updated: March 1, 2013 6:50AM

After sifting through dozens of essays from area students, the Carpentersville Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5915 and Ladies Auxiliary named three winners of the Voice of Democracy Youth Essay contest.

The winners, who were honored Sunday during a luncheon, were Dundee-Crown High School students Caroline T. Hutton, Zander G. Lopez, and Brandon H. Meng. They were each awarded $200 from the local VFW. The theme for the national contest is different every year. This year’s theme was: “Is Our Constitution Still Relevant?” This contest is opened to all high school students each year.

“Can you imagine trying to judge 47 of these and bring something to the top? It’s not easy,” said Elaine Slack, of Carpentersville VFW Post 15915. “That judging is the worst job in the world.”

Also honored during Sunday’s luncheon was the Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest, for students in sixth through eighth grade. That theme was: “What I Would Tell America’s Founding Fathers?” The winner was local student Thomas Stanila.

During Sunday’s event, the students read their essays.

Zander Lopez titled his, “The Constitution’s Diminishing Relevance.” He said even as a proud American citizen, he feels “that the Constitution is not as relevant as it used to be.”

“Many recent acts passed by Congress, the President, or the Courts have clear infringements upon either the Bill of Rights or the Constitution itself,” Lopez said.

In her essay, Caroline Hutton said the United States has undergone “some incredible changes over the past two centuries.”

“Nevertheless, it is important for us, as citizens, to remember and appreciate the document that set us on the path to become the remarkable nation we are today,” she said.

In his essay, Brandon Meng said the short answer to whether the Constitution is still relevant is yes.

“The long answer is that our Constitution is still relevant due to the great tools it has been given,” he said. “When the Constitution was written, it was given the ‘necessary and proper’ clause in order to allow some flexibility.”

He lauds the checks and balances he says are in place.

“Our nation remains the best at protecting rights in a manner that no one else can surpass,” he said.

Meng said it would be very hard for anyone to suggest that the government is no longer a feasible method of running our nation.

“With our fantastic government, we remain a light to the world and bring liberty and justice to those who need it,” he said. In his essay regarding what he would tell America’s founding fathers, student Thomas Stanila said he would “thank them from the bottom of my heart for their courage and sacrifices.”

And while he would also tell them about the education system in place today, the heroes in uniform risking their lives, and the advances in ideas and technology, Stanila said he “would not forget to speak to them of government itself.

“The one they worked so hard to develop a basis for,” he said. “Laws and order protect every family across the American nation to work through troubled times and continue our forefathers’ dream: to make America a safe and peaceful land for the next generation and beyond.”

The day also included Post 5915 giving special recognition to Gary Glen, a teacher from Dundee Crown, Sharon Waterman, a teacher from Sleepy Hollow Elementary, the Voice of Democracy judges, Senator Michael Noland, State Representative Keith Farnham, Carpentersville police and fire departments; Carpentersville Veterans Garden; PADS of McHenry County, PADS of Elgin, Community Crisis Center, Hospice of Northeastern Illinois, Little Angels, Fish Food Pantry, among others.

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