Young talent shines at Merritt Secondary School (MSS), as two students won the Royal Canadian Legion’s regional essay and poster making competition. 

This past January, it was announced that Grade 11 Meagan Voigt and Grade 10 Ariana Hostrwser won the essay writing and poster making categories respectively. This is an annual competition in commemoration of Remembrance Day. 

Every year, around the Remembrance Day period, students in MSS participate in this competition.

“I give it to them almost as an optional assignment,” MSS teacher Dave Finch explained. “The ones that participate are really committed in putting in good work so I’m really impressed by them.”  

Both Voigt and Hostrwser joined this year’s contest with no prior thought about the concept of their work. 

“I didn’t really had any specific idea in mind,” said Hostrwser. “I just looked for reference photos on what I wanted to do and it fell into place like puzzle pieces.” 

“I was the same as Ariana. Initially, I had no idea what to write about,” said Voigt. “I thought of the poppy that I wore and what it means to me when I think of Remembrance Day.”

The initial scope of the contest was only open to schools within the area of a Legion branch. In the case of Branch 96, the competition was only among high school students in Merritt Secondary. There were 30 entries for both categories combined and the best one for each moved on to regionals. 

By December, it was announced that Voigt and Hostrwser had been selected to represent the local branch in the regional competition. A few weeks into January, both Voigt and Hostrwser were called to the administrative office. It was then when they learned that they’ve won in the regional competition. 

“I was pretty excited because I never really had my art presented that way,” said Hostrwser.

“I was pretty excited too,” added Voigt. “I never really thought of myself much of a writer, but winning that made me think that maybe I am.” 

The regional competition had a bigger scope, Merritt students competed with peers in places such as Kamloops, Cache Creek, Ashcroft, Chase, and Clearwater. The BC/Yukon competition is the next level after regionals. If successful there, the girls’ work will be submitted to compete at the national level. 

“The school community and the local Legion branch are definitely proud of their achievements,” said Finch. “We’ve had one student go up to the Yukon level, and now having two is really awesome.”