ST. MARYS — A local eighth-grade student recently nabbed the top honor in a statewide essay competition, and she will be competing next at the national level.
Lindi Cisco, a student in Jonathan Beougher’s class at St. Marys Middle School, competed at the state level in the Patriot’s Pen competition, where she took first place, at the VFW’s Mid-Winter Conference held in Columbus Jan. 28.
“I had to write my essay in advance,” Lindi said. “It had to be between 300 and 400 words about if I was proud of my country, that was the theme.”
Lindi’s essay, she said, was an option she could write for extra credit in her language arts class, and it had moved on from the district level — District 2. Lindi was not the winner for the local post — those top three spots went to Jennifer Brown for first place, Natalie Weigandt for second place and Kelcie Fox for third place — but her essay was chosen to move on to the district level. There are 12 districts in Ohio, and District 2 includes Allen, Auglaize, Hardin, Logan, Mercer, Putnam, Shelby and Van Wert counties.
Before Christmas, Lindi’s family received a call stating Lindi’s essay had earned her one of the top three finalist spots out of the 12 districts, and she headed to Columbus for the Jan. 28 conference.
“I showed up, and I had to read my speech,” Lindi said, adding she and her family spent time with the local VFW Post 9289 Quartermaster Frank Thomas in the District 2 Hospitality Room until she had to return. “I had to go to a banquet dinner that night, and after they announced the winners I had to read my speech again.”
Out of the more than 6,300 students in grades six to eight who entered the Patriot’s Pen competition, Lindi’s essay came out on top — netting her first place — it was announced during the banquet.
“I was really shocked at first,” she said. “When I found out, I just froze. It was unbelievable.”
For winning first place, Lindi received a $1,500 check and a football autographed by Jim Tressel. VFW Commander in Chief Gerald “Mort” Ward from Celina and VFW Ladies Auxiliary Department Chair Janette Hixson presented Lindi her awards.
The second place winner took home a $1,200 check, and the third place winner received an $800 check.
“I’m going to save it for college, sadly,” Lindi said of her winnings. “I wish I could use it for something else, but I’m sure it will help when I have to pay for college down the road.”
From here, Lindi’s essay will move onto the National Patriot’s Pen contest.
“I found out that there are 54 papers going to nationals, and if I get into the top 46, I still get something,” Lindi said. “If I only beat out eight people, I could still be happy with that.”
If Lindi receives one of the 46 awards, she would receive a savings bond for winning. The national conference will be the week of March 3 to 8. In the meantime, Lindi will be performing her speech at the District 2 banquet March 4 in Sidney, where she will also receive an award for winning the district level.
Lindi is the daughter of Ty and Tammy Cisco.