Students from Eugene Field, McMillan and Hawthorne elementary schools, St. Brendan Catholic School and Mexico Middle School were honored Wednesday night by the Mexico Elks Lodge for their Drug Awareness essays.

Fifth-graders receiving $50 each were Tess Stephens, Grant Broeker, St. Brendan; Katie Bowen, Evan DiBlasi, Eugene field; Makayla Spurling, Nate Robertson, Hawthorne; Brooke Teel and William Sause, McMillan.

Eighth-graders receiving $100 were Harlee Aulbur, Andrew Stephens, St. Brendan; Bailey Teel and Grant Qualls, Mexico Middle School.

Before the presentation students and parents were guests of the Elks for a buffet-style meal.

Susan Paden, chairperson for the Drug Awareness Program, welcomed students and parents. She told the parents the students are some of the best in their class. "You have all done a great job on raising these fine students and you should all be proud of them," Paden said.

She also outlined the criteria for the contest.

Students are chosen by a teacher, principal or counselor based on the following criteria: academic standing, high moral character, polite and mannerly behavior, good citizenship characteristics, and good attendance record. There are number grades assigned to each stundent for each criteria. the students are asked to write a 150-word essay for fifth-graders or a 300-word essay for eighth-graders on their idea of the importance of drug awareness in the community, family and school.

The essays are turned into the lodge where a drug awareness committee judges them and makes the final selection. The committee included: Paden, Janet and Fred Jones, Ron Whittaker and Chad McDonald. They looked at sentence structure, punctuation, spelling and content.

The committee used a grid grading system where scores were assigned to each student in the different areas and then added together. The boy and girl who receives the highest points, wins for their grade at a particular school.

The students were presented their award at their school's awards assembly at the end of the school year.

After presenting the students their checks Paden praised them. "We are proud of you and we want to thank you for participating in our program."

She told them the Elks hope they continue down this successful path in the future.

Paden encouraged the students to remember their comments about staying drug free, to continue to work hard in school, to live a clean life and to be a great influence on their family, friends and community and to follow their dreams.

Paden thanked the committee for all the work they did. "It took one night for several hours to judge the essays," Paden said.

She also thanked Ron Diehl and his committee for the work in the kitchen preparing the evening's meal.