ABSECON — The Emma C. Attales Middle School held an assembly Friday, Dec. 1, to recognize student attendance, academics and character. The winners of the VFW Patriot's Pen essay contest were announced.

Principal Christine Ruth announced the grade with the best attendance record and named the students of the month for November. She also recognized students who made the honor and merit roll.

Ruth, who started as principal Oct. 13, also announced the seven students who received the first-ever Crusader Random Acts of Greatness awards. Ruth said she encouraged teachers to nominate students who demonstrate positive behavior that might otherwise go unnoticed.

“We wanted to recognize kids who just do those little things to go above and beyond and make our school a better place,” Ruth said.

The awards went to Ahmaya Hayes, Devir Mitchell, Shyanna Thomas, Emily Scull, Eileen Seif, Matthew Espinoza and Xavier Krier for acts such as helping a fellow student learn how to open a locker and greeting teachers every morning.

“A lot of times kids don’t realize how much it means to teachers when they say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and they say ‘good morning’ each day,” Ruth said. “We wanted to give teachers an opportunity to recognize students who go out of their way to do the right thing.”

Teachers nominated students of the month based on how students embodied the qualities of citizenship, the theme for November.

The fifth-grade students of the month were Yousuf Khan, Charlene Harlan, Valentina Franco and Patrick McCline. 

The sixth-grade students of the month were Nataly Trinidad-Lopez and Nikhil Skrobick. 

The students of the month for the seventh grade were Luciana Sulpizi and William Norman.

The eighth-grade students of the month were Fred Green and Diya Patel.

Members of Absecon Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9462 announced the three winners of the Patriot’s Pen, their annual essay contest for students in sixth, seventh and eighth grade.

VFW Quartermaster Robert Ford, Senior Vice Cmdr. Joe Maley, former Post Cmdr. Kevin O’brien and Auxiliary President Karen Benedetto attended the assembly to congratulate the winners.

Attales Middle School students submitted 58 essays, the most the post has ever received for the contest. Due to the high volume of submissions and close results, the judges were unable to choose just one first-place winner, according to Benedetto.

Seventh-graders Diana Acuna and Emilee Denise Martinez and eighth-grader Sean Costello each received the first-place prize for their essays on this year's topic, which was “America’s Gift to My Generation.”

“This school is very patriotic-oriented," Ford said. "They have a tremendous Veterans Day program. They do a lot of different patriotic things. They really support this program.”

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