Thursday, 14 January 2021 19:34

Richmond County student, teacher win local VFW awards, move to state finals

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Rockingham Middle School eighth-grader Jacey McRae s flanked by VFW Post 4203 Commander Eddie Dean and Auxiliary President Robin Roberts after winning the Patriot's Pin for both the local and state level for her essay on patriotism. Rockingham Middle School eighth-grader Jacey McRae s flanked by VFW Post 4203 Commander Eddie Dean and Auxiliary President Robin Roberts after winning the Patriot's Pin for both the local and state level for her essay on patriotism. William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — Two Richmond County residents, a student and a teacher, move on to the state finals in their respective categories after being named winners on both the local and district levels through the Veterans of Foreign Wars Voice of Democracy Program.


Both were honored with certificates Thursday evening at VFW Post 4203, presented by Post Commander Eddie Dean and Auxiliary President Robin Roberts.

Jacey McRae, an eighth-grader at Rockingham Middle School, was the winner of the Patriot’s Pin for her essay “What is Patriotism?”

“Patriotism is showing your love for your country and, like, how you represent it for everyone else and what you can do to show patriotism to everyone,” she said prior to receiving her certificates.

McRae’s listed examples of patriotism included how citizens come together in times of tragedy like 9/11 and following natural disasters.

“We all put our differences aside to come together to show patriotism,” McRae said.

“If everyone took pride in supporting our nation and its leaders,” McRae concluded in her essay,” what a wonderful world this would be.”

The daughter of Jamie and Joyce McRae, Jacey McRae has cousins serving in the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps and the National Guard.

McRae said her mother first jokingly told her that she didn’t win — “and I didn’t believe her for a while” after being told that she had actually won.

She read her essay aloud to the small crowd after receiving her certificate.

The other winner was Gretchen Martin, English teacher and Student Senate adviser at Richmond Early College High School, who was named Teacher of the Year.

Martin previously received the honor in 2018.

Martin said she tries every year to have her students do something for the veterans at the college as well has help out at the VFW.

This year, they made and gave masks for the RCC employees who are veterans.

Martin said she doesn’t feel like they’ve done all they could this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the past, they’ve given gifts, provided dinner and served meals at VFW events.

“I just try to incorporate into my classes and Senate that they make important contributions and … I just wanted to promote the idea of patriotism, that I felt was kind of dwindling,” Martin said. “It wasn’t pronounced among my students. So I use that as, not a way to force my views, but for me to encourage that view.”

Overall, Martin added, her students are “pretty humbled by the things that they’ve done.”

“I just wanted them to get out of their comfort zone … meet someone who’s done something they haven’t done … gain respect for that,” Martin said.

Roberts commended Martin for having her students involved with so many veteran-related activities, including having floats for the Veterans Day parade and helping with care packages.

“You’re a great asset to the post, to your students and to Richmond County,” Roberts said.

One of Martin’s students, 10th-grader Megan Rainwater, also won first place on the post level and third place in district for her essay on the theme “Is this the country the Founders envisioned?”

Rainwater was not able to make it to the presentation.

Each award came with a cash prize.

Richmond Early College High School English teacher Gretchen Martin, center, is flanked by VFW Post 4203 Commander Eddie Dean and Auxiliary President Robin Roberts after being named Teacher of the year at both the local and district level. 

Last modified on Thursday, 14 January 2021 20:17