Pictured left to right. Front row, Post Commander Stanley Lay, student Martin Fontana, educator Kimberly Rydzewski, student Vashana Nardalall, educator Michaela Epi and Auxiliary Unit Spokesperson Patti Brainard. Back row, Joshua Reader. (Not pictured Zora Langford, Ellen Walker, and Jael Langford)

by Chuck Seaver, South Lake Tablet

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 5277 and the Women’s Auxiliary Unit held its annual student scholarship and teacher appreciation luncheon on Saturday, January 13th at the William Alred Suggs Memorial Post, 855 West Desoto Steet, Clermont.

Local students were recognized by both the post and the auxiliary unit for winning entries in a student essay contest themed “How Are You Inspired by America, for middle school students and “What Are the Greatest Attributes of Our Country, for high school students. The essay opportunity is offered to middle and high school students as both a learning experience for the students as well as a method to help each student realize the importance of our country’s democracy.

Stanley Lay, Post Commander and Spokesperson introduced each winner with scholarship certificates, mementos from the post and funds awarded by both the post and the auxiliary. The funds are intended to help each winner with their quest for a continuing education.

The ceremony was highlighted with the post-level Smart/Maher Citizenship Education Teacher Award. The award is a VFW nationwide award intended to recognize educators for their outstanding service in the field of education and provides a monetary gift to each recipient to help teachers with their professional development expenses.

This year’s scholarship recipients in the middle school category were 1st Place to Windy Hill Middle School student Zora C. Langford, 2nd Place to Imagine South Lake Charter School student Martin J. Fontana III, and 3rd Place to Windy Hill Middle School student Ellen J. Walker.

High School aged scholarship recipients were 1st Place to South Lake High School student Vashana Nardalall, 2nd Place to home school student Joshua Reader, and 3rd Place to East Ridge High School student Jael C. Langford.

This year’s Smart/Maher Citizenship Education Teacher Award recipients were 1st Place winner Michaela M. Epi, a kindergarten teacher at Aurelia Cole Academy and 2nd Place winner Kimberly D. Rydzewski, a multi-grade teacher at Gray Middle School. Both were selected from nominations received from the community, family, and co-workers for the outstanding dedication and commitment to not only their students but also to the field of education.



Previous articleMVA’s Lower School Garden: Cultivating a Love for Growing Food
Next articleGrand Opening Celebration At Johnson Village Marketplace