By Laura Ann Tipps/Staff Writer
The Gadsden Civitan Club awarded four Etowah County middle and high school students last week for their entries in the “Hometown Hero” essay contest.
Jack Floyd, president of the Civitan Club, and president-elect Dr. Jim Prucnal presented the awards during a club meeting held at Gadsden State Community College last Wednesday.
“This is always one of our best programs of the year,” said Prucnal.
Each winner read his or her essay, beginning with third place middle school winner Jacob White, a sixth grader at Glencoe Middle School.
His essay was about Josh Wetzel, a former Glencoe student, who fought in the war in Afghanistan and lost his legs during a bombing.
White, whose favorite subject is social studies, hopes to become a professional athlete.
“The mayor even declared October 22 to be ‘Josh Wetzel Day,’” White said.
Second place winner Collin Hardy, a Glencoe Middle School seventh grader, enjoys English and wants to be a sports commentator.
Hardy wrote about Coach Lyle Darnell, who led the 1973 Glencoe Yellow Jacket football team to a victory in the 2A state championship.
“This championship meant everything to the town,” said Hardy.
The first place winner in the middle school division was Anna Beth Giles, a sixth grader at Glencoe Middle School who loves math and aspires to become a doctor.
Giles’ essay was about E.C. “Baldy” Wilson, whom she referred to as “a hero for all ages.”
Wilson’s accolades and titles include war veteran, collegiate athlete, head coach, and county school superintendent.
Giles said that, most importantly, Coach Wilson is “a kind and friendly gentleman, respected by everyone who knows him.”
The 91-year-old Wilson and his wife, Mattie Wilson, were present at the awards ceremony.
“I think it’s so nice that he was recognized,” said Mrs. Wilson.
“It’s just overwhelming for somebody to write about you like that,” said Coach Wilson, who still attends Glencoe High School football games regularly.
The first place winner in the high school division of the essay contest was Mason Brown, a junior at Glencoe High School who plays linebacker on the school’s football team.
In college, Brown plans to study business administration or finance.
Like White, Brown wrote about Glencoe graduate and war hero Josh Wetzel. He said that Wetzel was humbled by the welcome he received in his community and felt that everyone should be welcomed home that way.
“Wetzel would have been a hero even if the accident never happened, but the accident allowed people to open their eyes to see what kind of situation the people who serve put themselves in,” Brown wrote.
The winners received awards ranging from $25 to $100, and the essays will be sent to a district contest.
President-elect Dr. Prucnal expressed his appreciation for the teachers and principals who support the Civitan Club and facilitated the students’ participation in the essay contest.
“It’s very heartwarming to know that we have this generation coming along to take care of our world.”