By Amanda Crowl, editor in chief
Saegertown junior Brittany Houck, daughter of Tim and Debora Houck, placed second in the western region of the state in the 2020 American Legion Essay Contest. Her essay on the topic “Does the U.S. Military receive the respect they deserve?” advanced through four levels of competition to reach the western sectionals during the pandemic, which Saegertown American Legion Post 205 Commander Dan Cole found impressive. The first place winner from the East, West, and Central sections advances to the state finals in the contest, where first place earns $3,500.
Through the annual Department of Pennsylvania American Legion Essay scholarship contest, students showcase their talents and abilities in English by using originality, accuracy and research as evidence, while learning the responsibilities and duties of good citizenship.
On September 10, Houck was surprised to receive a check for $600 from Commander Cole for her second place finish, who presented it on behalf of the Pennsylvania Legion. “I’m honestly really thankful that we got the opportunity to write this because I wouldn’t have this money without the chance to do it, so I think it’s a really great thing that the Legion does,” Houck said.
The American Legion has given students the opportunity to participate in this essay contest since 1935. “It shows what the students see and feel about the subject. The American Legion picks a different topic every year, and it gives us a good look into what students are thinking,” Cole said.
Houck wrote about how veterans should receive better treatment, respect, and resources. “I do think that they [veterans] should get better treatment, and I think it’s nice that I got to write that and people got to see how we students feel,” Houck said.
Cole noted that the situation for veterans is improving: “Not only the state, but also the federal government have made more funds available, especially for the VA, and that’s where the needs of the veterans are the greatest.”
English teacher Stacey Hetrick, who supervises the essay contest at Saegertown High School was impressed with Houck’s performance. “My students have been entering this contest for many years. Brittany’s essay was one level from the state finals. I could not be more proud of her.”
(Read Houck’s award-winning essay, which was published in the Meadville Tribune on Feb. 21.)
Journalism Adviser, Saegertown Jr. Sr. High School