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Mt. Pleasant youth's essay wins American Legion Auxiliary contests

By Barbara Denning
Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Samantha Lauffer, 15, of Mt. Pleasant recently was recognized as a winner in American Legion Auxiliary Americanism Essay contests at the local and county levels.

A ninth-grade student at Southmoreland High School, Lauffer was declared the winner for her essay, “What Freedom Do I Enjoy Most?,” in a contest conducted recently by the James E. Zundell American Legion Auxiliary Unit 446 in Mt. Pleasant.

The essay also earned her first place in the high-school division of the Westmoreland County Council American Legion Auxiliary District.

The American Legion national organization chose the essay theme.

Lauffer chose religion as her topic.

“Other countries don't have that freedom and that is what adds to the freedom of the United States. I'm a strong Christian believer, so that was a big part of my life,” Lauffer said.

Lauffer's essay will now be judged during the American Legion Auxiliary State Department of Pennsylvania essay contest, which is held annually to any student enrolled in grades 3 through 12 in a public, private or parochial school or who is home-schooled statewide.

If the piece is chosen as a winner at the state competition, it will be judged in a national competition, said Ferne Brown, president of both the James E. Zundell American Legion Auxiliary Unit 446 and the Westmoreland County Council American Legion Auxiliary District.

While Lauffer had previously participated in the contest, it was a first time win for her at the county level.

For her victories, Lauffer earned a cash award from James E. Zundell American Legion Auxiliary Unit 446, which was presented by Brown and the American Legion unit's Americanism chairman, Barbara Rudnik.

She also had the opportunity to represent the post at the Westmoreland County district level and received a cash award.

Lauffer's accomplishments were an honor to the American Legion Unit 446, Rudnik said.

“She is very mature for her age,” Rudnik said. “Her essay was wonderful.”

Other American Legion Essay contest winners who placed in the Westmoreland County Council American Legion Auxiliary district level competition were Lucas Shawley, 3rd-4th grade level of Donegal Unit 941; Jacinta Jolly, 5th-6th grade level of Latrobe Unit 982, and Erin Kelly, 7th-8th grade level of Slickville Unit 18.

Lauffer is the daughter of Chicago Lynn Lauffer of Mt. Pleasant and Jeff Lauffer of Everson.

Barbara Denning is a freelance writer.



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