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Forsyth elementary, middle school students read essays about their heroes
-Brandywine Surprise 4 WEB
Misha Patel, a kindergartner at Big Creek Elementary, reads her essay about why her hero is her cousin. - photo by Micah Green

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Honoring Our Heroes essay contest winners

Misha Patel
Anna Apinis
Samiah Jones
Devansh Tadikamalla
Maanya Agarwal
Ellie Chatham
Shreyansh Agarwal

First grade
Alankrita Charerjee
Nikhil Gaonkar
Isabella Pallone
Firdows Baghdadi
Siri Chivukula
Kathryn McFarland
Neha Gondi
Aarya Patel
Madison Dorn
Bhavya Jain

Second grade
Kushal Maringanti
Hasini Pokala
Shashwat Balamurali
Lillian Beck
Jacob Grigg
Angeline Yoder
Reese McCarthy
Aria Harrell
Findley Henson
Aditya Dinesh
Will Rydzewski

Third grade
Alyaa Voskanian
Radhika Kulkarni
Drew Pascarella
Jiya Patel
Aditi Shimit
Brielle Thomas
Ishaan Agarwal
Trinity Donaldson
Nathan Smith
Roya Shah
Madison Jeffress

Fourth grade
Lucy Shi
Thea E. Valencia
Sahana Kandasamy
Gabriel Beck
Claudia Fether
Tarun Kilaru
Shreya Hegde
Timothy Hoerrmann
Jordan Van Uum
Avleen Chahal
Shriya Sawant
Shivanuja Gokarakonda

Fifth grade
Natalie Voskanian
Katelyn Elliott
Allie Chanoski
Sebastian Martinez
Channing Payne
Ashley Choi
Samantha de Haan
Jocelyn Ramirez
Maddy Franco
Chinwe Okonkwo
Nakshatra Balaji
Makynna Woodson

Sixth grade
Anvi Agrawal

Seventh grade
Ava Schuerlein

Eighth grade
Tanvi Gujral

Watching cartoon characters save the day from evil villains or reading comics about Batman vanquishing his nemesis may entertain children, but one group of Forsyth County elementary and middle schoolers shared Tuesday night how they are inspired by their real-life heroes.

The Forsyth County Council of PTA’s annual Honoring our Heroes ceremony was a chance for students to recognize someone in their life who they look up to, with a kid-hero pair from each grade in 12 elementary and one middle school accepting a certificate in front of family, friends and teachers at Brandywine Elementary.

“It’s a writing program where we’re basically asking kiddos to write about their real-life heroes,” said Lisa Hickenbottom, vice president of the Brandywine PTA. “It’s been around since 1995.”

Cobb County started the program to encourage kids to look in their actual lives for inspiration, not just in celebrities or on TV, said Anna Sander, vice president of programs for the Forsyth County Council of PTAs.

Students who wrote winning essays for their grade at their school talked about their parents, their siblings, their doctors, their teachers, their friends, their coaches. One student from each grade was selected to read their essay for the audience, which filled to standing room only in the first-year school’s cafeteria.

“My cousin volunteers at the hospital. She likes to read and talk to the sick people. This shows me she is caring,” said Misha Patel, a kindergartener at Big Creek Elementary.

One student talked about the nurse who cared for her and her twin brother when they were born prematurely. Another explained why he chose his speech language pathologist, who helped him get rid of his stutter and anxiety.

A girl’s yoga coach was honored. A teacher and a best friend were also chosen.

Jocelyn Ramirez read about her sister who Ramirez matched to be able to donate bone marrow. The Matt Elementary fifth grader ended her essay with tears in her eyes and down her face as she told the audience her sister is still her hero every day even though she passed away in 2012.

“Heroes,” said Scott Edwards, the guest speaker for the event, “come in all different forms.”