Growing Animal Advocates in the American Dream City

Articles-Animals-03-27-15
Arlington Animal Services was filled with energy as the 2015 Animal Essay Contest winners’ attended a reception to read their essays, tour the shelter, and slip next door to the Southeast Branch Library for a lesson in how to use their new Kindle Fires. Listening to the animal essays being read aloud by the winning authors was a memorable experience. Emotions were stirred in the proud parents, teachers, and bystanders in attendance. Third through sixth grade student winners shared personal experiences, thoughts, and research performed through their informative and entertaining essays. These young minds are advocates for animal welfare, with ideas for solutions to help make the community and world a better place for animals and humans.

Each award winning essay presented an array of thought provoking content. Interest was roused in volunteering at the animal shelter, to spaying or neutering family pets to help reduce pet overpopulation. Fourth grader Chad Larson began his essay with a descriptive introduction about being out “on a nice warm night” for a walk, “when all of a sudden the bushes next to you start to shake and the hair on the back of your neck stands up,” which drew the audience in with curiosity about what was about to happen next. Samuel Moran, a third grade winner, made a plea to everyone to adopt their pets, stating to “go to the shelter because it would save an animal’s life” and that “it is less expensive to adopt a pet at the shelter.” Cory Bever, a fifth grade winner, did just that, and adopted a puppy into his family that had been fostered by the shelter’s veterinarian.

This year’s contest drew 1,019 contestants, making for lots of strong competition. Council member Sheri Capehart, one of the founders of the contest, now in its 14th year, encourages all students that are Arlington residents attending third, fourth, fifth and sixth grades to participate. Capehart is well known for her strong support of animal welfare and youth education in responsible pet ownership. Regarding the annual contest, Capehart stated, “This contest is not about winning a prize, because everyone wins who takes the time to write, to learn, and to develop a better understanding of care and compassion for animals. We congratulate all students who took the time and cared enough about animals to enter.” Student Adriana Ortiz is taking the contest to the next level by being actively involved in volunteering at the shelter. Everyone truly is a winner that participates.

Cheri Colbert, the city’s volunteer administrator for Animal Services shared these thoughts about the contest:

“Leading and coordinating the 2015 Animal Essay Contest was very rewarding. I was happy to interact with the students, teachers and principals to let them know of the great job each child did, whether they won or not, all of the students who participated wrote really great essays. Through the writing process, they all learned how to be responsible pet owners. I could see the excitement in the students’ eyes to know that they accomplished something and their hard work paid off. One parent said, “Wow! You guys did a great job celebrating all of the winners, I had no idea it was this big!”

This year’s winners were recently announced, but we want to take a moment to congratulate these shining stars again:

Third Grade

Essay Topic: If you were asked to help at a local animal shelter, what do you think you would be asked to do?

1st Place Winner
Avery Williams
Miller Elementary

2nd Place Winner
Eidan Loyola
Morton Elementary

3rd Place Winner
Samuel Moran
Miller Elementary

Fourth Grade

Essay Topic: What changes do cats and dogs have to make to live and survive as homeless pets?

1st Place Winner
Molly Breclaw
St. Maria Goretti

2nd Place Winner
Analicia Miller
Beckham Elementary

3rd Place Winner
Chad Larson
St. Maria Goretti

Fifth Grade

Essay Topic: What advice would you give to pet owners in order to prevent overpopulation of cats & dogs?

1st Place Winner
Michelle Nguyen
Ditto Elementary

2nd Place Winner
Cory Bever
Key Elementary

3rd Place Winner
Adriana Ortiz
Arlington Classics Academy

Sixth Grade

Essay Topic: How would an overpopulation of homeless cats and dogs affect our local ecosystem?

1st Place Winner
Caden Blake
Butler Elementary

2nd Place Winner
Colby Holloway
Dunn Elementary

3rd Place Winner
Madeleine Vacanti
Ditto Elementary

Each winner was recognized by Honorable Mayor Robert Cluck and City Council member Sheri Capehart at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 3. Contest prizes provided by community partners included a $100 savings account awarded by EECU and Beacon E&P, and Kindle Fire HD compliments of Beacon E&P.

Special thanks to each and every student that participated in this annual contest and all of our community partners that support creativity, good writing skills, and an abiding love and respect of animals. Who will be next year’s winners?