3 students selected as finalists in VFW essay contest


The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 2427 in Tomball recently selected three Klein ISD students as finalists in their Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest.

Earlier this month, intermediate students Alana Gonzalez (Hofuis), Grace Nguyen (Kleb), and Katherine Stein(Strack) wrote essays on the theme “Why I Honor the American Flag.” Their essays are now advancing to the next level in the contest.

Klein ISD would like to congratulate these students for working hard, embracing opportunities to grow, and succeeding in getting to the next step of this national competition.

Every year, more than 132,000 students across the country in grades 6-8 enter the VFW Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest. The national first-place winner wins $5,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. The first-place winner from each state competes for national awards totaling $55,000, with each first-place state winner receiving a minimum of $500 at the national level.

“I had no idea that my daughter’s essay would bring tears to my eyes,” Ada Gonzalez said about her daughter, Alana. “She truly has a gift.”

When asked about what inspired her essay, Alana said she was inspired by the “servicemen and servicewomen who put their lives on the line for the freedom we enjoy.”

Each student was sponsored by educators from their respective schools. One sponsor, Kleb Literacy Specialist Susan Collier, commended her student, Grace Nguyen, for being a role model and forever learner.

“The acceptance of rejection is one of the qualities that I admire most about Grace,” Collier said. “She immediately rolls with the punches and wants to know what she can do to make ‘it’ better. Grace reads other club members’ writing through our Schoology group and offers positive, constructive feedback. She is a well-respected young author.”

All of the students have unique backgrounds with Nguyen writing from her family’s experience escaping Vietnam and Gonzalez writing based on her own beliefs about patriotism.

Katherine Stein comes from a family of six children and was adopted from an orphanage in China as a baby. Klein ISD is honored to have such great diversity and inspiring talent coming from our district.

“Katie is quiet, but a determined leader who cares for others and stands up for her beliefs,” Strack 8th grade history and government teacher Jennifer Hamilton said.

Thank you to Susan Collier, Jennifer Hamilton, and Rebekah Noey for dedicating their time and efforts to aid these students in this essay competition. You are part of the reason that our students are becoming leaders in our community. Your sponsorship demonstrates what Klein ISD’s high-quality teaching is all about!

The status on the essays chosen to advance to the top three and the students earning a cash prize from the VFW have yet to be announced. Updates will follow as we receive more information.