Lehighton area students were recognized for winning first place in their age categories in the Shoemaker-Haydt American Legion Auxiliary Unit 314, Lehighton, Americanism essay contest.

The theme was "How Can I Show My Patriotism in My Community?"

Winners were asked to read their winning essays.

In the third and fourth grade category, the winner was Hannah Christman, a student at Mahoning Elementary School.

The fifth and sixth grade category winner was Galilea Villagomez, a student at Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic School.

"How often do we think of being patriotic?" Villagomez asked in her essay. "You should buy American. To be patriotic means to care. Clean up litter and help people who are needy."

Colbe Zerbe, the seventh and eighth grade winner from Lehighton Area Middle School, said that people can show their patriotism by helping keep the community clean.

"We can also thank our military for our freedom. We can show patriotism on all of our holidays. I feel we should also encourage people to vote," he said.

Emily Schaude, a student at Lehighton Area High School, won in the 9th and 10th grade category.

Geoff Ebbert, who won in the 11th and 12th grade category, is also a student at Lehighton.

"When it is my turn to show patriotism, I can drape my band over my heart," he said. "How proud and honored I am to be a United States citizen. We, as a nation, are bound together. We honor veterans by putting a wreath at cemeteries. We do take our freedoms for granted."

Each of the winners was presented a $25 cash prize and a certificate by Sue Anthony, Legion Auxiliary Unit Americanism chairman.

Ebbert and Emily Schaude's essays were also named Four County Council winners at a meeting recently held at the Brown-Lynch American Legion Post 9, Easton, and each received a $25 gift card.

Their essays will now go to the state level of judging.