Cortney Ofstad/Daily Globe
BESSEMER EIGHTH graders Jacob Suzik, Caitlin Lynch and Jonathan Bale pose with their certificates as the winners of the 45th Annual America and Me Essay Contest Thursday at A.D. Johnston School. Lynch received first place, while Bale and Suzik finished in second and third.
BESSEMER - Three Bessemer eighth grade students were named local winners of the 45th annual America and Me Essay Contest.
English teacher Diana Mickelson surprised her students by announcing the winners Thursday morning.
Caitlin Lynch received first place, with Jonathan Bale and Jacob Suzik receiving second and third.
All three received award certificates, and Lynch's name will be engraved on a plaque for permanent display Luther L. Wright School in Ironwood.
The contest is open to all eighth graders across Michigan, with some teachers allowing students to participate as an extracurricular event or as a classroom assignment.
The topic for the 2013-'14 essay was "My Personal Michigan Hero." Lynch wrote about Lynn Palm, a horse trainer with ties to Gogebic County, and Bale wrote about Mark and Jane Bale, a couple who recently adopted him.
Suzik's piece was on his father, Greg, who served in the military and served a tour in Iraq.
For Lynch, her piece advances to the statewide competition, where the 10 pieces across Michigan will be selected. The 10 writers will receive $1,000, a plaque, medallion and an invitation to attend a banquet in Lansing.
In addition, the winners will also be featured guests at a Lansing Lugnuts minor league baseball game.
The statewide winners will be announced later this month.