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Essay contest helps fund Westwood students' trip to Washington D.C.

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    Westwood essay contest winners are front, from left, Ijanna Carter, Valerie Hendon, Emalee Knotts. Rear, from left, Quinton Baker, Da'von Miles.


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    Eighth graders Ijanna Carter, left, and runner-up Emalee Knotts, were winners in an essay contest at Westwood Middle School March 13. The top winner won a full scholarship for a field trip to Washington D.C., covering the cost of the trip plus $50 spending cash, from Nagy Family Dental Group.


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    Eighth grader Ijanna Carter took first place in an essay contest at Westwood Middle School March 13.


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    Principal Theresa Lengel presents Ijanna Carter her prize for winning an essay contest at Westwood Middle School March 13.



ELYRIA — Thanks to two groups of benefactors, five eighth-graders from Westwood Middle School were surprised Wednesday with financial assistance to help them make the annual summer trip to the nation’s capital.

A half-dozen students sought scholarships to help them pay for their class trip to Washington, D.C., in June, taking part in an essay contest sponsored by the Nagy Family Dental Group. One received a full scholarship to go on the trip and two others cash prizes as spending money.

Ijanna Carter, Emalee Knotts and Da’Von Miles were the award winners in the contest. The annual trip is June 6 to 8 and costs about $464 per student.

Ijanna won first place in the essay contest sponsored by Nagy Family Dental Group, which came with a full scholarship to cover the cost of the D.C. trip, along with $50 to spend on the trip.

Emalee took second place and both she and Da’Von, who took third place, got $30 each to spend. Three other students who took part in the competition received books as prizes.

Sheona Kimmel, office manager at Nagy Family Dental Group, told the students that Dr. Scott Nagy and his staff found their essays “really touching” and could sense their excitement.

“Our whole practice is based on the idea that you get what you deserve. That you get back from this world what you put in,” she said.

The Hamker family also awarded two students, Valerie Hendon and Quinton Baker, with scholarships in honor of Westwood science/STEAM teacher Scott Hamker’s late father.

Scott Hamker’s mother, Pat — whose letter to Fox 8 TV was instrumental in helping Westwood Middle School win $5,000 in last month’s Fox 8 TV/Liberty Ford “Fuel Your School” contest — judged the essays, her son said.

He said his mother was very impressed when Valerie wrote that she has wanted to see the White House since the age of 6, and that “every child dreams of being president.”

Quinton’s essay also impressed, Scott Hamker said, when the eighth-grader wrote that “to learn from the history of humanity, we must first learn about it.”

Following the “Fuel Your School” contest win, Westwood Principal Theresa Lengel said some of the award money might be used to help fund the D.C. trip, for which students do a large amount of fundraising throughout the year.

Donations also come in throughout the year from individuals and community groups.

Contact Dave O’Brien at (440) 329-7129 or do’brien@chroniclet.com. Follow him at @daveobrienCT on Twitter.
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