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VFW honors students, community leaders

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By Carolyn Risner

Chiefland Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5625 held its annual Youth and Community Awards Banquet Sunday, April 19 to honor those who have excelled in their field in 2008-2009.

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In its program, the Post acknowledged the youth, who exhibited interest in patriotism, love of country and respect of veteran.

Teachers were commended for being a guiding force to develop future leaders.

The Post saluted civil servants who are the community's protectors.

Artists and youth who support the VFW National Home were cited for "adding a ray of sunshine."

The local media was commended for the willingness to promote VFW activities.

Bell High School was named High School of the Year. Principal Rick Reed, accepting the award on behalf of the school, said it was important for students to understand liberty and where freedom comes from.

Paul Tousignant from Bell High School was the local Voice of Democracy winner, a contest open to students in grades 9-12. Students in this competition can win as much as $30,000 at the national level.

Tousignant spoke about familial relationships and today's youth have a sense of patriotism only because they have been taught.

He lauded veterans for their services and said their sense of duty continues to make better Americans.

Max Barreto won the Patriot's Pen Award for students in grades 6-8.

Eagle Scout of the Year honors went to Timothy Bunton who earned 37 badges and did his Eagle project on the proper disposal of American flags.

Trenton Elementary School boasted all the Patriotic Arts and Essay winners, including Hallie Bryant, first; Angelika Schultz, second and Jorge Diaz, third for the Arts portion and Autumn Rhodes, first; Austin Joslin, second and Dawn Cameron, third in the Essay portion.

The VFW contests are endorsed by the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Next year's topic for the Voice of Democracy is "Does America still have heroes?" and for the Patriot's Pen "When is the right time to honor military heroes?"

John Price, Teacher of the Year Middle School, is a 22-year Navy veteran who said he tries to instill a "special sense of country" in his students.

Bud Riffle, fire chief of North Gilchrist, was honored for his work with the county's fire departments that amounted to thousands of dollars–at no expense to the taxpayer.

Other award winners were:

Police Officer of the Year-–Scott Anderson

EMS of the Year–Capt. Mayra Hope

Coupon Clippers of the Year–Barisa Burton and Libby Sheffield

Media Person of the Year–Carolyn Risner, the Chiefland Citizen