Lehighton American Legion Auxiliary Unit 314 honored three winners of the Unit's Americanism essay contest, a recipient of the American Legion Auxiliary's Past President's Health and Medical Science Scholarship, and the 2012-13 reigning Miss Poppy.

Essay winners were Benjamin Zacharias, a third-grade student at Shull-David Elementary School; and Tatiana Gonzalez, sixth grade and Emily Roberti, seventh grade, both students at Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic School.

The theme was "What Freedom Do I Enjoy?"

Zacharias shared that he likes that he can go to Sunday School because "In other countries you could be tortured."

Gonzalez chose to appreciate the Freedom of Religion and Roberti appreciated both the Freedom of Religion and the Freedom of Speech.

Gonzalez said that freedom of religion is a privilege.

"Freedom of religion is important to me and my school. Unlike people in other countries, we do have that privilege."

Roberti said, "In our country we have many important freedoms. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion are two important freedoms. Freedom of religion allows me to worship as I please, while freedom of speech gives me the right to say what I want."

Also recognized was Madison Brown, 9, daughter of Kerry and Floyd Brown, who is the reigning Miss Poppy, and Elizabeth Reichard, Girls State participant.

Brown is a third-grade student at Franklin Elementary School and will represent the Unit at Memorial Day services and other veteran events this year. Brown is also the granddaughter of Floyd Brown, Legion Post 314 commander.

Reichard is the daughter of Karen and Samuel Reichard of Lehighton and was the recipient of the American Legion Auxiliary's Past President's Health and Medical Science Scholarship, awarded by the Four County Scholarship Committee, comprised of Carbon, Lehigh, Monroe and Northampton counties. It is a $1,000 scholarship.

Reichard plans to attend Cedar Crest College for a career in genetic engineering. She was ranked 12th in her class at Lehighton Area High School, where she is a National Honor Society member and is the organization's secretary for 2012-13.

She attended Girls State in June 2012.

She said that attending Girls State was a wonderful experience.

In 2007, she was nominated and attend the Jr. National Young Leadership Conference.

She attended President Barack Obama's inauguration while participating in the conference.

In addition, Reichard was a member of the debate team in ninth grade, golf team in 11th grade and 12th grade; and is a member of the Red Cross, where she helps set up for blood donations. She is a member of the Stage and Drama Club in 11th and 12 grades.

She is also a Safe Ambassador, Downtown Initiative since 10th grade, and has helped with functions at Bowmanstown Emmanuel U.C.C. and Mahoning Fire Co. and Family Career and Community Leaders of America and Students for the Advancements of Global Entrepreneurship while in ninth grade.

She was elected for the Safe School Ambassadors Program, which is an anti-bullying program in which selected students are trained how to properly handle and intervene with bullying among school students.

She also helps at bingo in the local high rise to raise funds for Polycystic Kidney Disease, where she made headbands, bracelets and key chains, which were sold at the walk for Polycystic Kidney Disease.

The youngsters and their families were treated to luncheon refreshments following presentations.