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Annual contest keeps veterans in students’ minds

Connections between the American Legion Post 123 and the school district  are numerous. That includes the annual poppy poster contest, open to all area students in grades 2-12.

“This is a small town, so many activities tend to tie us together,” said Mary Clare Johnson, art teacher for the elementary grades who spent time after school helping students prepare posters for the contest.

Third place went to fourth-grader Laila Mortensen

“This was my way of making sure we connect,” she said. “It seemed like a perfect fit to get our young students involved and thinking about those who came long before them and sacrificed their lives for us today.”

This year’s first place went to fourth-grader Sixto-Pablo Ramirez.

Every student in the district who participated this year was given a certificate from the auxiliary, and the top three received a financial award of $25, $15 and $10, respectively. The top three advanced to the American Legion district contest, where Sixto-Pablo’s poster earned third place.

The poster winning top state honor is reproduced as the official American Legion poppy poster of the year, said Staci Bull, Post 123 Auxiliary member.

Students worked in the art room after school to create posters for the AmVets poster contest

Story Behind the Symbol

The red poppy symbolizes the blood shed during battle following the 1915 publication of the wartime poem “In Flanders Fields,” written by Lieut. Col. John McCrae, M.D. while serving on the front lines.

On Memorial Day and Veterans Day, millions of red crepe paper poppies, which symbolize the sacrifice of members of the armed forces, are handmade by veterans as part of their therapeutic rehabilitation and  distributed across the country in exchange for donations that go to assist those who are disabled and hospitalized. The tradition started in 1921, Bull said.

May is poppy month, and this year the official Poppy Day falls on May 25.

Second place went to fifth-grader Mackenzie Marlatt

The relationship between the local veterans and the schools perhaps is best demonstrated every year with a day-long Veteran’s Day event that draws hundreds to the high school; a popularly attended memorial football game; and an elementary school assembly at which veterans tell their stories. In addition, some of the veterans and members of the auxiliary of Post 123 participate in a flag-raising ceremony on the first day of school and a flag lowering on the last day of school.

The Kent City Post donates school supplies every fall to the elementary school, collect hats and mittens to donate to the school for those who need them, and have delivered cookies to school staff during Teacher Appreciation Week.


Kent City Veterans event

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Janice Holst
Janice Holst
Janice Holst has been both a teacher and a journalist. A former MLive reporter, she wrote features and covered local government and schools for Advance Newspapers for nearly two decades. She also was a recipe columnist and wrote features for Mature Life Style and occasional entertainment pieces for On The Town magazines. She lives in Sparta Township and is thrilled to spend some of her retirement hours writing the stories of the northern Kent County school districts. Read Janice's full bio or email Janice.


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