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Bell Oaks Students Recognized for “How to Be A Good American” Essays

Hayden Straub, Ethan Shelling, and Gianna Loftis were recognized for their winning essays at the Bellmawr Board of Education Meeting.

From front left: Bell Oaks students Ethan Shelling, Hayden, Straub, and Gianna Loftis are pictured with Councilman Ray Bider, Bell Oaks Principal, Anthony Farinelli, School Superintendent, Danielle Sochor, Teacher Ed Beail, Mike Hackett of Bellmawr VFW #7410, and Mayor Chuck Sauter.

At the March 22, 2022 Bellmawr Board of Education meeting, three eighth grade students from Bell Oaks: Hayden Straub, Ethan Shelling, and Gianna Loftis were recognized for their winning essays in the 2021-2022 Patriot’s Pen Essay Writing Competition.

The contest is a VFW-sponsored youth essay contest that gives students an opportunity to write essays expressing their views on an annual patriotic theme.

The theme for 2021-2022 was “How to Be a Good American.”

Eighth Grade Social Studies and Language Arts teacher, Ed Beail, has been facilitating this essay contest for many years with Mike Hackett of Bellmawr VFW #7410.


Hayden Straub, Ethan Shelling, and Gianna Loftis are pictured with their families and Councilman Ray Bider, Principal Anthony Farinelli, Councilman Ray Bider, Bell Oaks Principal, Anthony Farinelli, School Superintendent, Danielle Sochor, Teacher Ed Beail, Mike Hackett of Bellmawr VFW #7410, and Mayor Chuck Sauter. (SJO Photo)

Mr. Beail said: “I can’t take credit for it. I am not allowed to help them at all. I give credit to the former teachers that they’ve had in the system that taught them how to write. [In] October, we talked about how to be a good American, but all of the words are theirs. I believe this is the first time that we had First, Second, and Third Place in the county from one school.”

Hayden Straub came in second in the state with her essay.

Congratulations Hayden, Ethan, and Gianna!

You can read the students’ winning essays here: