South Orangetown Central School District

This afternoon, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1615 Chief John Antonucci presented South Orangetown Middle School student Olivia Ryan with a medal, certificate and cash award for her winning entry in the annual VFW Patriot’s Pen essay contest.

“What Patriotism Means to Me” was the theme of this year’s contest and Ryan, a seventh-grader, began her essay by identifying respect for others as a patriotic act. “Whether it is my peers, teachers, adults or some random person walking on the street all citizens should be respected. Every citizen is entitled to their own political beliefs. America has granted us an amazing privilege of being able to have your own opinion. To me, patriotism is appreciating that,” she wrote. Ryan also credits her “poppy,” a veteran, for inspiring her own sense of patriotism and appreciation for those who have served.

Today’s presentation followed a virtual January 22 ceremony hosted by Assistant Principal Joseph Onativia to recognize all the writers who had submitted essays. During the proceedings, Onativia expressed gratitude to VFW Post 1615. “Mr. Antonucci’s dedication to this contest goes beyond words. Each year, he reads every student essay and comes to celebrate our participants,” he said. “We thank him and all the members of VFW Post 1615 for their service to our community and our country.”

Congratulations to Olivia and to all the SOMS Patriot’s Pen participants!

Commended participants: Sophie B., Andrew C., Jaywon C., Ellery C., Karina C., Ciara D., Michael E., Nicky F., Jack G., Jessica G., Andrea H., Victoria K., Brendan K., Emily L., Domenick M., Amanda M., Ava M., Caroline O. and Daniel R.

Finalists: Scarlett A., Arber B., Magdalena B., Emily B., Emily D., Hailey K., Ella K., Kevin K. and London O.

Patriot's Pen winner Olivia R. and VFW Post 1615 Chief Antonucci