Mantua Veterans Commission Chairman Joseph Heitman presented eight township students with U.S minted coins on Jan. 24 for winning the Veterans Day poster contest.
“Thank you to Joe Heitman on behalf of the Mantua Township Veterans for presenting our poster winners with a special coin set,” said a statement from Centre City on Facebook. The eight winners are students in three to sixth grade at Centre City and J. Mason Tomlin elementary schools.
The coins came in sets given to students whose work best represented the contest theme, “What is a veteran?” Heitman believes it’s important to provide kids with a measure of exposure to American patriotism.
“We want to make sure that the students feel recognized,” he noted. “The contest is a great idea and it’s important that we get the kids involved in both Veterans Day and Memorial Day. Sometimes we feel the students don’t get exposed to patriotism enough.
“It’s also important to expose our students to veterans, especially if they might be interested in serving themselves one day.”
The coins – paid for by Mantua – are usually presented to winners on Veterans Day, during the township’s annual commemorative event. But this year’s order was late, and the coins didn’t arrive until January.
The eight students who won – their parents asked that they not be named – were chosen out of hundreds of posters submitted. The sets they received each contained 10 coins and featured historical figures like presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.
Heitman and other commission members choose the winners, but judging also required outside help.
“We get hundreds of posters, and that can be a lot for just us to judge,” he explained. “So, we draft volunteers from the Mantua VFW and Auxiliary. We have about 12 to 15 people to help judge.”
The veterans commission and the Mantua school district have always had close ties. A student choir performs at the Veterans Day ceremony. And one of the teachers at Tomlin is Cheryl Tunstall, a township resident and Air Force veteran. She also helps organize an annual Veterans Day luncheon at the school where veterans speak to students about their experiences.
“I am really proud to be an American,” Tunstall noted, “and I hope that shows through to everybody, day by day, as I am teaching the youth of today. I hope that I can get that message to them to be a positive person and a happy member of this community.”