The Brigantine Elks recently held its annual Americanism essay contest, which was open to all Brigantine school students in grades 5 through 8.

About 120 essays were submitted, according to Elks Americanism Committee Chairwoman Melissa Hannan. Six winners were recognized at the Brigantine Elks Lodge on Thursday evening, Jan. 11.

The winners were fifth-graders Samantha Jorgenson and Gianna DeJesus, sixth-grader Grace Crosson and eighth-graders Dane Estler, Mikaya Garraty and Brooke Sharp.

Brooke was also recognized by Brigantine North Middle School social studies teacher Larry DiGiovanni for having won a contest in October sponsored by Ocean City Home Bank that included more than 1,300 submitted essays from 30 middle schools in two counties.

Brooke was also one of 18 North Middle School students inducted into the National Junior Honor Society in May.

For the Elks essay contest, students were asked to write an essay about 300 words long on “Why are veterans American heroes?”

Four current or retired teachers served as judges, including Elks Past Exalted Ruler Rich Poole, Nancy Brandt, Tyler Hannan and Melissa Hannan. Essays are judged at the district, regional and national contest levels.

Mayor Phil Guenther, Deputy Mayor Andy Simpson and City Council members Dennis Haney, Karen Bew and Vince Sera attended Thursday. The mayor congratulated the winners for their exceptional reflections on the impact veterans have on all American lives.

“You will find no other example of individuals who have made a commitment so that you may live in freedom, and take full advantage of so many opportunities in front of you that other students throughout the world do not have,” Guenther said.

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