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STMS 8th grader Brantley Bouwense places first in VFW District Patriot’s Pen Essay Contest
STMS’s Walker Page places third in District
Front row, l to r: Clarice Shuman, Coordinator of the Patriot’s Pen Essay Contest at STMS; Glennville VFW #8379 Commander Norman Davisworth; Walker Page-third place District Winner; Brantley Bouwense-first place District Winner; and VFW District 7 Command
Front row, l to r: Clarice Shuman, Coordinator of the Patriot’s Pen Essay Contest at STMS; Glennville VFW #8379 Commander Norman Davisworth; Walker Page-third place District Winner; Brantley Bouwense-first place District Winner; and VFW District 7 Commander James Jensen. Back: Sabrina Page, Stevie Page, and Therese Bouwense.

South Tattnall Middle School (STMS) eighth grader Brantley Bouwense and Walker Page have excelled once again in their patriotic essays in District competition.

Brantley was awarded first place in the District VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Patriot's Pen Essay Contest, and Walker placed third in the District competition. For his win, Brantley was presented with a check for $150, and Walker's placement earned him $75.

On hand to present the checks and plaques to these deserving young men were James Jensen, VFW District 7 Commander, along with Glennville VFW #8379 Commander Norman Davisworth. Teacher Clarice Shuman, who coordinates the STMS Patriot's Pen Essay Contest, also assisted in the presentations. Mr. Jensen was very complimentary of these students' essays and the thought and patriotism evident in each one.

In the STMS competition, in which over 40 students submitted essays in the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, Walker placed first and Brantley third.  These placements allowed them to participate in the District competition.  The theme for the 2023-24 essay contest was "How are you inspired by America?"

Walker, the son of Stevie and Sabrina Page, wrote his essay on the inspiration of those who have fought for our freedoms and the liberties that are enjoyed today. (Walker was also a third-place winner at STMS as a sixth grader.)  Brantley wrote his essay about America inspiring him with its ability to overcome challenges and its resilience.  (Brantley placed third as a seventh grader in last year’s Patriot’s Pen competition.)

The essays of Brantley and Walker were among 300 essays submitted throughout District 7, which includes the cities of Glennville, Alma, St. Simons Island, Brunswick, Jesup, Douglas, Waycross, and King's Bay.  Their essays will now be sent to the State for judging.

Their essays are as follows:

Brantley Bouwense, 1st Place

“It's the best and most inspiring nation in the world.” That's something many people in other communist countries would say about America. However, what makes it so inspiring? What about America makes millions of different races and ethnic groups want to come to the big melting pot? The three things that I think make America inspiring is its ability to overcome challenges, many good leaders, and resilience.

One of the biggest things that makes me feel inspired by America is its ability for all the people to come together and overcome challenges or tough times. One example of this is 9/11.

During and after this very tragic event, people came together and helped the people in need. It didn’t matter what color you were, what their job was, or if they had a family to go home to, all those heroes stepped up together and saved countless lives. These heroic acts are very inspiring.

Another thing that is inspiring to me is the American leaders who rose up and not only changed lives, but the course of history to have the freedom as we know it today. One of my favorite examples of leaders is George Washington. He stepped up and served as a big leader in the American Revolution, leading many battles toward our eventual independence from Great Britain. Even after all that, despite wanting to go back home to Mount Vernon, he stepped up to be our first president, and set the tone of a great president for years to come for our new country.  This is inspiring to me and should be for everyone.

The last thing that makes me inspired by Americans is its resilience. This nation’s ability to resist and overcome anything is amazing. I think the biggest example of this is the American Revolution. Even after all the taxes, laws, and cruel rule under the king, the early American colonies overcame the biggest empire in the whole world. No matter what the British threw at them, they came out on top. This kind of resilience to take anything is truly inspiring.

In conclusion, America’s ability to overcome challenges, leaders, and resilience is highly inspiring to me. It is almost crazy to imagine the things this country has done for freedom, rights, and helping others. It is no wonder that millions of people want to come to this amazing, inspiring country.

Walker Page, 3rd Place

What is something that inspires you? The definition of inspire is to fill someone with the urge or ability to do or feel something. Many things come to mind when you answer this question, such as your parents, grandparents, and even a superhero. However, you probably didn't think about America. Although it's not a typical answer to the question, it is a great one. I’ve realized how much of an inspiration the U.S. has been to me. The National Anthem states, “The land of the free and the home of the brave.” I have been inspired by America in two ways, by the brave who fought for our freedom and for the freedoms that I am gifted with.

The U.S. wasn't always a place of peace; there have been many battles fought that allow us to stand here today. The Revolutionary War was fought on this very soil while others were halfway around the world. No matter the place or time, the soldiers were ready to go fight. After their battles, they returned home as veterans. Some soldiers, like my great-grandpa, were wounded. After hearing his stories, I learned how bad war can be and really started looking up to veterans. America's history of brave people battling for our country inspired me to be brave and work hard so that their sacrifice isn't wasted.

We have freedoms that people in some countries can only dream about. According to Yeonmi Park, “In North Korea, people who are actually oppressed don't even know they're oppressed.” Americans are all treated fairly no matter age, gender, or race. I can open a business or even just ride in a car, while others cannot; this inspires me to make the best of every opportunity. In some places, equality doesn’t exist. However, we have grown up in America and have been inspired since day one to be inclusive of everyone.

In conclusion, America is a big inspiration. It has a long history of brave people working and battling to keep our country safe. This inspires me to be a brave and strong young man. We have many freedoms that others don't. Everyone here is treated fairly. These things inspire me to appreciate the small things in life and be kind to others no matter their differences. I believe you’ll be able to go out and find things in America that inspire you!