Freshman Oscar Cruz received a standing ovation when it was announced he received the second place spot in the National Stamp Design Competition 2022 during the Term 3 Awards Ceremony at St. Cyprian's Episcopal School on March 30.
Joan Ragland and Kim Slack were present to award Oscar with his metal for his hard work during the award ceremony. Joan serves as the State Junior American Citizens (JAC) Chair, and Kim serves as the JAC Chair for Angelina County and Regent of the Anthony Smith Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). DAR sponsors the stamp design competition. "I don't think of Lufkin being that big and having us win," Joan said.
Joan and Kim, together, exclaimed "Yes!"
The theme for this year's competition was "The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier," which is Arlington National Cemetery's most iconic memorial. Since 1921, the memorial has provided a final resting place for one of America's unidentified World War I service members, according to arlingtoncemetery.mil. Oscar said he was inspired to base his stamp artwork on a photograph of a soldier guarding the memorial during the winter season. "When we first looked up the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, we watched a video of them guarding it," he said. "I found a picture of a soldier walking a different way and guarding it, but the leaves were off, and it was the realistic version, too. That's what technically inspired me to make the soldier walking and guarding the tomb. With the trees and the sunset, I said to myself that it would be pretty cool if it was a sunset and while everything else was with greenish (leaves and) trees."
He said he was proud of himself for placing second but was surprised when he heard his name called. "I'm shocked and happy," he said, "but still didn't expect it to make it to nationals when I first heard about (the competition)." They both said they were proud of Oscar and the hard work he put into the competition. This was the first year SCES students participated in the competition.
In addition to Oscar, several more SCES students were highlighted for their work in the stamp decorating contest and receiving awards at the regional level of the competition. Cendall Phillips, 1st Place - 7th Grade Lam Nguyen, 2nd Place - 8th Grade Araiyah Briggs, 3rd Place - 6th Grade
Students Alex Tiu, Isabella Wright, Tripp Zeleskey, and Isaac Frankens received the DAR Youth Citizenship Award during the ceremony. This award recognizes and rewards individuals who possess the qualities of dependability, service, leadership, and patriotism in their homes, schools, and communities. Kim said she wanted to remind the students to keep "loving our country, being a good citizen, researching history, and being proud to be an American."
Joan echoed this by reminding students to take "pride in home, God, and country."