Local Youth Honored In Annual Contest


Elementary school students from around the area shared inspiring stories of friends standing against bullies, selfless acts to support the less fortunate, and incredible stories of strength in the midst of overwhelming challenges for the 12th annual Young Heroes Essay Contest.

More than 400 fourth- and fifth-grade students submitted essays describing a hero in their lives as part of the contest, and they attended a ceremony at Northeast High School on October 24, when they received citations from local politicians. Winning essayists and their heroes were also invited onstage for additional accolades and photos with the legislators.

The Young Heroes Essay Contest was conceived after Senator Bryan Simonaire’s son Isaac, then a teenager, wanted to create a commemorative day for young people. Since then, the contest has grown from two schools to 10, while also urging more children to become role models themselves.

“Honestly, when my young son and I brainstormed to create this program, we were just hoping it would encourage the community that year. We had no idea that it would morph into a program that has literally touched thousands of students and family members,” said Simonaire. “The success of the program highlights that there is so much good in our community and people are encouraged when they hear these inspiring stories. It shows the commitment our principals and teachers have toward our students.”

More than 8,000 students have participated in the annual contest over the years, according to Simonaire’s website. He said that the work of everyone involved in the event continues to be a blessing.

“It has been such a blessing working with the students, teachers and principals,” he said. “The program is made up of many wonderful volunteers and I cannot thank them enough!”




Molleigh Downey


Michael Downey

Joannie Eckles

Brooklyn Park

Kenny (brother)

Caiden Skinner

High Point

Alex Mencia (brother)

Audrey Weber


Kadence Falloni

Landon Popkins

North Glen

Mo Gaba

Kamden Cox

Point Pleasant

Owen Harden

Dakari Joyner

Riviera Beach

Nile Harris

Hunter Vanlaer


Nathan Vanlaer (brother)

Avery Billmyer

St. Jane

Bridget Diveley

Aaden January


Aaden January


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