Spirit of Douglas essay winners honoredBy Bruce Whetten
The three winners of the First Annual Spirit of Douglas essay contest were honored Saturday night at an awards ceremony at the Douglas Government Building.
Twenty-eight students in grades third though 12th wrote a 150 word essay wrote about a Douglas story that inspired them.
The Spirit of Douglas Committee working with school principals qualified and nominated essays to a panel of judges from Cochise College. Three finalists were ultimately chosen and selected winners of their respective divisions.
Lexie Otero, a third grade student from Sarah Marley Elementary, was the elementary age group winner. Her essay called “The Run” was about Linda Gomez’ efforts to raise money to help those living with cancer in Douglas.
Matteo Vlasic, an eighth grade student at Loreto Catholic School was the middle school winner. Vlasic wrote an essay called “Miguel Gomez” which was about all the hard work this man did before becoming one of southern Arizona’s most influential people.
Joseph Alvarez, a senior at Douglas High School was the high school winner. His essay was called “Gib Dawson – Hometown Hero” and was about the legendary local athlete who went on to play at the University of Texas before having a brief career in the National Football League with the Green Bay Packers.
All three winners were awarded a $500 check courtesy of various donors.
Former Arizona Governor Raul Castro was also on hand for Saturday’s ceremony. Castro gave a short speech about growing up in Douglas and Pirtleville and all the obstacles he faced as a child.
“Get an education, go to school,” he told those in attendance at the event. “Whatever you want to achieve in life can be done but you have to work for it. Nothing will be handed to you.”
Castro concluded his remarks by saying that even though he may now live in Nogales, Douglas is still his home town and he loves not only the community but also the people.
The Douglas Dispatch and Voice of Douglas via the Douglas Centennial Committee helped put on this event.
According to committee chairman Danny dj Morales the work represents a cross-section of thoughts and perceptions that needed to be shared regardless of whether they met the contest rules (150 words or less) or were ultimately selected.
Morales expressed the rationale for the online anthology saying these stories needed to be told, because Dispatch readers need to know just how much certain individuals, certain actions, and a certain town named ‘Douglas’ mean to our students.
“Our young authors worked hard to tell Douglas stories that inspire them,” he said. “We have much to be proud of as a community. I hope their collective written voice speaks to, lifts up, and inspires our entire community.”
Regarding Saturday’s event Morales said the awards social was a great celebration of our community's history, future, and unity.
“To have Governor Castro share his 'you can do it' motivational story in a venue honoring student achievement showed just how far Douglas students can go,” he said. “To have so many contributors, committee members, principals, students, and community leaders work together to make last night's gala possible reminds me of the glory days of Douglas you read about in historical accounts. Those days are coming back and I'm confident the best of them are yet to come."
The authors who contributed to this anthology include: Gerardo Abril, Jessica Ambriz, Joseph Alvarez, Axel Boneo, Aleyda Cañez, Melanie Coronado, Victoria Coronado, Elyzabeth Duarte, Lizbeth Gonzalez, Nathan Grijalva, Patrick Hoyack, Jocelyn Hurtado, Laura Hurtado, Orlando Collins Madrid, Mark Martinez, Danny Morales III, Michael Morales, Lexie Oteto, Gissel Pedrego, Marlene Peralta, Rachel Robles, Stephanie Robles, Joanna Rocha, Ruby Sandoval, Savannah Saucedo, Manuel Soto, Julian Toscano and Mateo Vlasic.
All 28 entries can be viewed at www.douglasdispatch.com.
Contributors for the event were: Christian Life Center, City of Douglas, Arizona, Cochise County, Arizona, Douglas Dispatch, Douglas Rotary Club, Friends of the Douglas Public Library,
Dr. Kristine Gomez, Mrs. Maryelizabeth Hart, Dr. Michael & Mrs. Wendy Gomez, City of Douglas Industrial Development Authority, McDonalds of Douglas, Rev. Daniel & Mrs. Maria Morales, Voice of Douglas, Wick Communications and the City of Douglas Youth Activity Fund..
Morales also announced that on Nov. 3 there will be a play at the Ray Borane Middle School Auditorium called the "Life & Times of Raúl Castro". The event will start at 6 p.m. and tickets are $5.