Lehighton AMVETS, Elwood Miller Post 106, recently announced the winners of the 2010-2011 Americanism poster and essay contests, which carried the theme "Why Is It so Important to Vote?"

Randy Rabenold, adjutant, noted that the first place winners in the poster and essay contest also won third place honors in the state contest.

In the third grade poster contest, Aleah Nothstein, a student at Franklin Elementary School, was awarded $50 for first place; Colton Bachman of East Penn Elementary School, was presented $30 for second; and Katie Aaron, Ss. Peter and Paul School, received $20 for third.

In the seventh grade essay contest, Amy McConnell of Ss. Peter and Paul School was the first place winner and received $50; Cassie Binder of the Lehighton Area Middle School, second place, received $30; and Ryan Andrews of Ss. Peter and Paul School, was presented $20 for third.

In her winning essay, McConnell wrote, "The United States of America is a democracy. A democracy gives every person the free and equal right to have a part in choosing our leaders. We must all vote to make sure everyone's voice is heard and has a part in picking our representative.

"Voting allows us to express our opinion to the politicians currently elected to office. Politicians work for the people. The issue of government affects our lives every day in our neighborhood, city, state and entire country and the way that our country interacts with the world.

"Voting upholds and protects the promises of the Constitution of the United States of America. Veterans died to protect our country and its freedoms. Voting is a way to show respect for veterans and helps to keep our country strong."