Manistee Catholic Central America & Me Essay winners announced

MANISTEE — Three students from Manistee Catholic Central Junior High School have been named local winners in the 50th annual America & Me Essay Contest sponsored by Farm Bureau Insurance.

Manistee Catholic Central winners of the 50th Annual America & Me Essay Contest were recently honored by local Farm Bureau Insurance agent Matt Knizacky. Shown left to right are Knizacky, Kaylyn Johnson (first place), Ashley VanAelst (second place), Abigail Logan (third place) and teacher Michelle McComb.

The three students who earned first, second and third place awards for their school are Kaylyn Johnson (first place), AshleyVanAelst (second place) and Abigail Logan (third place). All three received certificates for their achievement.

Manistee Catholic Central School’s participation in the America and Me contest was sponsored by Farm Bureau Insurance agent Matt Knizacky of Manistee.

This year the topic that students wrote about was “My Personal Michigan Hero.” As the school first place winner, Johnson’s name will also be engraved on a plaque for permanent display at the school.

Johnson selected her late grandfather William Markham as her personal Michigan hero in her first place essay.

“As a child, I always admired him,” said Johnson. “He found a way to make everyone laugh and smile. My grandpa has always been bright and cheery after everything that has happened to him. He had diabetes and had two near death experiences. He fought through those and still found a way through God to stay happy and amazing. One thing I will always remember him saying was ‘Come on Kaylyn let’s go sailing’ because it rhymed with my name.”

Johnson said that positive attitude inspires her to this day.

“My grandpa is my personal Michigan hero because he has influenced me to follow my dreams and go for what my heart wants,” wrote Johnson. “I wish that he could see me doing all the other things that a grandchild wants their grandma or grandpa to see them accomplish.”

Second place winner VanAelst wrote about her late uncle as her hero and cited his winning battle with cancer and then losing his life while saving his cousin’s life in a car accident.

“It was June 16, 2012 when my world really got confused and broken,” wrote VanAelst. “We received a call that there has been a terrible accident. The only good news that day was that my uncle saved my cousin’s life. He faced his fear of leaving his family to save his little girl’s life. He faced a car that came at them. He turned towards his daughter and bear hugged her until she was out of the car, but he was killed at the accident.”

VanAelst wrote that the memory of her uncle stays strong in her mind.

“I know that he will will still be at my side when times are tough, he is my personal American hero,” she said.

Third place winner Abigail Logan selected her dad, Jeremy, as her Michigan hero. She cited his inspiring her to play basketball and do her best.

“When I was about four or five he taught me how to dribble and shoot a basketball and the bond we have now was born,” said Logan. “I like basketball, but only when my dad is coach and we are playing against a team from a different school. I love lifting weights with my dad, it makes me feel good about myself. Especially when he motivates me, tells me to keep going and yells to me from across the room ‘you’re doing great kiddo.'”

She said their love of sports have created a special bond between them.

“I love my Dad and I know he loves me, even though he loves basketball and weightlifting more than going shopping, that’s why my personal Michigan hero is my dad,” she said.”

Johnson’s first place essay now advances to the state level competition, from which the top 10 essays in Michigan will be selected. The top 10 statewide winners, who will be announced in April, will each receive a plaque, a medallion and a cash award of $2,000. In addition, the top 10 essayists will be honored at a banquet in Lansing, meet with Michigan’s top governmental leaders, and be the featured guests at a Lansing Lugnuts minor league baseball game dedicated in their honor.

Also part of the 50th anniversary celebration, Farm Bureau will be presenting each top ten statewide school with a $1,000 check and another $500 more if the school was sponsored by a Farm Bureau Insurance agent.

A team of finalist judges that includes a top Michigan government official and the sponsoring teachers of last year’s top two statewide winners will determine the ranking of the top 10 statewide winners this year.

Several thousand eighth grade students from over 400 Michigan schools participated in the 2018-19 America and Me Essay contest which was conducted with the help of Farm Bureau Insurance agents across the state.

Leave a Reply