EASTON — Students, teachers, a first responder and law enforcement were honored in a ceremony at the E.E. Street Memorial VFW post on Monday, Jan. 13, in Easton.

Students from schools in Talbot County participated in the Patriot’s Pen, an essay contest for students in grades 6-8, and Voice of Democracy, an audio-essay contest for students in grades 9-12. The theme for 2019-2020 was “What Makes America Great.” Winners at the post, district, state and national levels earn educational scholarships and incentives.

Kate Adelman, an eighth grader from Talbot County, won first place in the Patriot’s Pen contest at both the post and district levels and will compete at the state level for the chance to advance on to nationals.

Easton High School senior Karli Abbott won first place in the Voice of Democracy contest at both the post and district levels and will compete at the state level for the chance to advance on to nationals.

Teachers recognized for their dedication to teaching topics about America and democracy were Jon Hammond of Easton High School, Donna Ewing of Easton Middle School, Mollie Connolly of White Marsh Elementary School and Colleen Szymanski of Chapel District Elementary School.

Paramedic Rachael Cox was recognized as the Civil Servant of the Year for her outstanding achievements for Talbot County DES and her initiative in bringing training to the local community.

Deputy Director of Talbot County DES Brian LeCates spoke about Cox’s passion for her job and the community.

“When it came time to nominate somebody, Rachael was an easy choice,” he said. “Other than doing her day-to-day job and doing a wonderful job of providing care to our community, she also has a passion for training. She not only wants to train other paramedics, but she wants to train the community.”

Cox is motivated to share her knowledge with Talbot County residents and initiated the adoption of the Stop the Bleed campaign at the local level.

“It’s a program that teaches a layperson the hemorrhage control techniques,” she said. “We can teach the community these skills because they’re on-site first and then they call 911. It can help save lives.”

Detective Corporal Justin Aita of the Talbot County Sheriff’s Office won top honors for law enforcement personnel. He started in law enforcement seven years ago and now serves on TCSO’s Criminal Enforcement Unit.

“It’s definitely special, and it’s definitely a tribute to all the men and women at the office,” Aita said of the recognition. “It’s not just me, it’s a team effort to keep the county safe.”

Aita’s wife Brittany was there to watch her husband accept his award as the VFW’s Law Enforcement Officer for 2019.

“It’s really exciting for him to get that recognition,” she said. “It’s good for him to feel proud of everything he does on a daily basis.”

Three other officers were recognized for their achievements: TFC Nicholas Schweers of the Maryland State Police, Cpl. Ron Cheezum of the Maryland Natural Resources Police and PFC Joseph M. Schinault of the Easton Police Department.

Students recognized during the ceremony also included Mark Mason and Julian Hutchison for their Patriot’s Pen submissions, and Katherine Chappel, James Perry, Antonio Lopez and Spencer Rada for their Voice of Democracy submissions.

During the ceremony, several VFW members also were recognized. Post Commander Kenley Timms lauded Gene Feher, Mike Johnson, Ronnie Johnson, Lee Young, Brian Sturgis and Rick Cross for their commitment to both the VFW and the local community.

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