Students from Chandler, Gilbert and Phoenix writing to the theme, "Veterans, Our Resilient Heroes," took top honors in the VA Veterans Day Parade Essay Contest.
Some essays include personal perspectives on what defines a "resilient hero," while others pay tribute to a teacher, a grandfather and a Navajo Code Talker written by his great, great-grandson.
Elementary winners: 1st place - Molly Pekala, fifth grade, Greenfield Elementary, Gilbert; 2nd place - Alana Yazzie, sixth grade, Cactus View Elementary, Phoenix.
Junior high winners: 1st place - Jose Cardenas, eighth grade, St. Mary-Basha Catholic School, Chandler; 2nd place - Kalei Kuikahi, eighth grade, St. Mary-Basha Catholic School.
High school winners: 1st place - Amber Dawson, 10th grade, Hamilton High School, Chandler; 2nd place - Rachel Beglin, 10th grade, Hamilton High School.
Winners will read their essays to patients and others on Oct. 27. First-place winners will each receive a $200 savings bond, with second-place garnering a $150 savings bond. All winners will ride on the Hall of Flame Fire Truck in the VA Veteran's Day Parade on Veterans Day and have their essays printed in the parade program.