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Pilgrim Bible students essay winners

Jonathan Guiles (left) and James Raisch (right) are local winners of the America & Me essay contest.

Jonathan Guiles (left) and James Raisch (right) are local winners of the America & Me essay contest.

Two students from Pilgrim Bible Academy in Cedar Springs have been named local winners in the 41st annual America & Me essay contest, sponsored by Farm Bureau Insurance.

The two students, who earned the first and second place awards for their school, are James Raisch (first place), and Jonathan Guiles (second place). Both received award certificates for their achievement. As the school’s first place winner, James’s name will also be engraved on a plaque for permanent display in the school.

James now advances to the state level competition, from which the top 10 essays in Michigan will be selected. The top 10 statewide winners, who will be announced in April, will each receive a plaque, a medallion, and a cash award of $1,000. In addition, the top 10 essayists will be honored at a banquet in Lansing, meet with Michigan’s top government leaders, and be the featured guests at a Lansing Lugnuts minor league baseball game dedicated in their honor.

A team of finalist judges that includes a top Michigan government official and the sponsoring teachers of last year’s top two statewide winners will determine the ranking of the top 10 statewide winners this year.

Several thousand 8th grade students from nearly 500 Michigan schools participated in the 2009-10 essay contest. The topic was “My personal Michigan hero.” Started in 1968 and open to all Michigan 8th grade students, the contest encourages youth to explore their roles in America’s future.

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