BLACKFOOT â€” Twenty-four students in the third through eighth grades and from Arco, Aberdeen, Blackfoot, Mackay and Shelley received awards ranging from $30-$75 from Elks Lodge No. 1416 not only for their scholastic achievements but for who they are becoming as citizens on Thursday.
Most Valuable Student awards went to Wyatt Andreason $500, Camille Jolley $250, Kaylee Andreason $300, and Ashli Munger $500.
Daisha Cummings of Arco and Will Higham of Shelley were selected as Teenagers of the Year.
The Elks National Foundation provides more than $3.64 billion in college scholarships each year.
Dale Dorigatti, the master of ceremonies of the local awards presentation said, "They are the epitome of what we stand for as citizens and patriots."
The Elks foundation invites schools in the various towns to involve students in the Americanism Essay writing contest each year. This year the theme was "Why I am
Proud to Pledge the Allegiance to Our Flag." The essays were graded in December and then went on to state, regionals and nationals. Each essay was graded off grammar and spelling with content being the main priority.
There are monetary awards at each level. This year, the Elks had winners at both the district and state level. Dorigatti said, "without the parents and teachers these kids wouldn't be what they are."
Along with essay winners, the Elks also choose from a pool of seniors as "teenager of the year award" and "Most Valuable Student" award. The students portrayed outstanding grades, school and community service. Michelle Miles said, "These youth are giving of themselves."
The Elks try to encompass a goodness that often gets overlooked in today's jumble of politics. A simplicity of patriotism shown in good works, service to others and human decency combined with scholastic achievements that do not go unrecognized in our local youth. Amy Powell, Americanism Chair, summed it up when she said, "we are reading the thoughts of tomorrow's leaders."
The Elks are second in the nation for scholarships awards, next only to the U.S. government. At the national level the Elks award a $40,000 scholarship to a boy and a girl.