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Armed Services YMCA Announces 1999 Essay Winners

By Susan Brown
Special to American Forces Press Service

SPRINGFIELD, Va., May 27, 1999 – Twenty-one children of military and Department of Defense civilian employee families -- out of some 4,000 entries -- have been named winners in the Armed Services YMCA Young Readers Project essay contest.

Tenth grader Elizabeth Gagnon, 16, and 11th grader Katherine Bayer, 17, won the domestic and overseas high school categories, respectively. Both received $1,000 U.S. Savings Bonds for their essays. Gagnon is the daughter of Lt. Col. and Mrs. George Gagnon of Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. Bayer's mother, Mary Zimmerman Bayer, is a civilian DoD Dependent Schools coordinator in Wurzburg, Germany.

Kelly Ann Carstens, 13, won the Grades 7-8 category. The seventh-grader is the daughter of Col. and Mrs. Joe Carstens of Fort Hood, Texas.

Jake McKeon, 9, is the $500 Savings Bond winner in the Grades 4- 6 level. He is the son of Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer and Mrs. John McKeon of Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Kindergartner Christopher Steele, 5, son of Navy Lt. and Mrs. C.E. Steele of the U.S. Naval Hospital in Naples, Italy, tied with first-grader Connor Muilenburg, 6, son of Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. and Mrs. Wayne Muilenburg of Mobile, Ala. Both Grades K-3 category winners won $500 Savings Bonds.

Fifteen runners-up received $100 U.S. Savings Bonds. Another 100 entrants earned honorable mentions and will receive a letter of congratulations and a book published by the U.S. Naval Institute, of Annapolis, Md.

Co-sponsored this year by the Naval Institute and the Audio Publishers Association, the Armed Services YMCA's Young Readers Project is intended to nurture a love of reading and knowledge among military families. The audio association donated thousands of audiobooks, to be presented to participating students by their teachers or the YMCA.

"Each year we receive well-written and thoughtful essays from children in military communities around the world," said Frank Gallo, national executive director of the Armed Services YMCA "They wrote beautiful, humorous, insightful essays on the importance that reading has in their lives. Military communities and parents should be very proud of the job they are doing in raising their children. Defense Department schools and libraries should be equally proud."

[Susan Brown is an Armed Services YMCA spokeswoman.]

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