The Exchange Club of the San Ramon Valley is spotlighting the winners of its annual 9/11 essay contest, which features the work of local students penning original pieces that reflect on the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Created in order to remember the day and show appreciation to first responders, this year's theme asked students to write a letter to a local police of rifle department thanking them for the work they do.
"Each year, the Exchange Club of the San Ramon Valley holds a remembrance ceremony for those who lost their lives at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Our first responders are still on guard each day to protect us from such threats," Exchange Club staff said in a statement.
This year’s cash prizes were $500, $300, and $200 for high school winners; $300, $200, and $100 for middle school winners; and $150, $100, and $50 for elementary school winners. The chair of the 911 essay contest also matched each grant with a financial contribution to the students’ schools.
Broken down by age group, this year's recognized winners include:
Elementary school contest
* First place - Sofia White, Sycamore Elementary School
* Second place - Sampreet Kottakota, Montevideo Elementary School
* Third place - Zoe Kuruvilla, Bollinger Canyon Elementary School
Middle school contest
* First place - Divya Vasudevan, Gale Ranch Middle School
* Second place - Saanvi Rathee, Windemere Ranch Middle School
* Third place - Adithi Balaji, Windemere Ranch Middle School
High school contest
* First place - Kyle Lew, Dougherty Valley High School
* Second place - Katrina Lee, Dougherty Valley High School
* Third place - Somya Rathee, Dougherty Valley High School.