Katelyn King of Van Buren, who placed eighth nationally in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest, will be recognized at Tuesday’s night meeting of the Van Buren School District Board of Education.

The board meets at 5:30 p.m. at the administration building at 2221 E. Pointer Trail.

More than 132,000 students in grades 6-8 entered the contest, which encourages youth minds to examine America’s history.

Katelyn, 13, daughter of Shelly King, is a seventh grader at Butterfield Trail Middle School.

At 9:30 a.m. Friday at Butterfield, Katelyn will be presented a citation from the Arkansas House of Representatives by Reps. Gary Deffenbaugh and Charlene Fite.

Katelyn’s essay was titled, “America’s Gift to My Generation.”

She said she wanted to give Patriot’s Pen a try after hearing about the essay contest from Marla Keady.

She won the local competition hosted by Robert Jack VFW Post 1322 in Van Buren, then went on to win at district and state.

“In my 12 years with the VFW, no one from Arkansas has ever made it this high in the judging,” said Quartermaster Matthew Hicks of Robert Jack Post 1322.

Katelyn said finishing eighth in the nation in the essay contest is something she will remember the rest of her life.

“I would like to encourage others to participate in Patriot’s Pen next year,” she said.

For placing eighth, Katelyn received the $1,500 John F. Gwizdak Award.

Karolina Mazur, an eighth-grade student from Glyndon, Md., was named the 2017-18 Patriot’s Pen first-place winner. Her essay on the theme, “America’s Gift to My Generation,” won her a $5,000 award. Karolina was sponsored by VFW Post 521 and its Auxiliary in Owings Mills, Md.

First-place winners from each state compete for national awards totaling $54,500, with each first-place state winner receiving a minimum of $500 at the national level.

The essay contest encourages young minds to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society, by drafting a 300- to 400-word essay, expressing their views based on a patriotic theme chosen by the VFW commander-in-chief.

Katelyn’s essay read:

“When I think about the gifts my generation has received from America, I think of three things. The three things I think my generation should be thankful for are the valuable history of our country, the welcoming of others that want to be Americans, and most importantly, our rights and freedoms provided by our brave country men and women.

“My generation is so blessed to have opportunity and access to the history of our great nation. From visiting national historic sites to reading and researching about the people and places in America that stood up for what is right. We can experience every event that made America what it is today. I volunteer in my community to help preserve and to also help educate others so that this rich history is not lost or destroyed.

“America is known as the melting pot because of our acceptance of others from all countries. I love that America is seen as the ideal country. I believe people want to come here because they want to live in the best. I think it’s important to follow the law and that legal immigration is one of America’s greatest gifts to everyone.

“The phase ‘Land of the Free and Home of the Brave’ is the most precious gift of all. Every single service person, every single activist, every single person that has stood up for, fought for, petitioned for and sacrificed for this country is owed an unpayable debt. They did not fight for just themselves, they did not worry of just their reward, they sacrificed for us all. I am a part Cherokee Indian, young and female citizen, many of those characteristics could make me a less valuable citizen in many countries. In America, thanks to the warriors for freedom, I have a voice, I have a place and I have value. I could volunteer, speak up and work every day and it still would not pay the price owed all those that went before.

“In closing, I am so thankful for all these gifts my generation received, and I personally strive to protect, promote and preserve the things that should continue to gift future generations.”