While they each have different opinions on what makes them proud to be American, The Frankfort Christian Academy seventh-graders Harrison Risk and John Dudinskie have one thing in common — they are both local award winners in the Elks Americanism Essay Contest.

There is no placing locally, but John’s essay went on to place third at the state level.

“I was very surprised — sports are more my style,” he said following an assembly last week at the school, when John Snyder, exalted ruler of Frankfort Elks Lodge 530, presented the pair with certificates and $25 checks.

John, 13, wrote that he believes America is a great country because all races are treated equally.

Thirteen-year-old classmate Harrison also wasn’t expecting to be named a winner.

“I didn’t think I was a good writer until this,” he said, adding he wrote his essay about the symbolism of the American flag.

“When we look at (the flag), we know we are free to believe what we want.”

The contest was divided into two divisions — Division 1 for fifth and sixth grade students and Division 2 for seventh and eighth graders. Eligible entries were to be typed or handwritten legibly in ink and not more than 300 words.

Entries were judged for originality — avoiding use of worn-out phrases, worth 30 points; development of theme — staying focused on the idea, worth 40 points; and mechanics and neatness — use of proper spelling, grammar and punctuation, worth 30 points.

After six local winners were selected, three essays were chosen from each district to be represented at the state competition.

TFCA teacher Lonnie Lewis, who encourages student participation in a handful of area essay contests, was proud of both students and looks forward to presenting more student awards in the future.

“They all want to do it again,” he said with a smile.

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