Keara Smith, a student who attends Hidahl Elementary School in Ceres, was the first place winner in the Ceres Masonic Lodge's annual Essay Contest.
Each year the Masons and the Ceres Unified School District gets together and asks student to write essays on a subject pertaining to education and how it impacts their lives. The essays are judged on three grade levels - elementary, junior high and high school. The students are asked to write Essays and present them to their educators and school board members. The essays are read and reduced to six entries from each grade level. The Masons then read these and again reduce it to two in each grade level.
Smith and her family were given honors at a dinner held on Tuesday, April 21 for the students. Also honored were second place essay writer Bianca De Los Reyes who attends Virginia Parks Elementary.
Iris Arellano, a Blaker Kinser Junior High School student, took first place for her grade division while Vinh Nguyen won second place.
Angelelika Pe, who attends Central Valley High, wrote an essay that garnered first place for the high school level.
Ceres High School student Arianne Amparo won second place.
This year the Masons, with the help of CUSD Supt. Dr. Scott Siegel awarded Teacher of the Year certificates to four outstanding teachers:
• Dan Leitner who teaches at Blaker Kinser Jr. High;
• Stephen Dias who teaches at Ceres High School;
• Elizabeth Tyler-Pannel who teaches at Patricia "Kay" Beaver Elementary;
• Aimee Hirsh, a Mae Hensley Jr. High School teacher.