Niles Optimists honor three outstanding young essay writers at contest

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- The Niles Noon Optimist Club gathered on Tuesday to honor three outstanding youths for their inspiring work in the club's annual essay competition.
The club had lunch and went through regular business before the reading of the three top essays. Tuesday's gathering marked the group's first meeting at the Riverfront Cafe.
The winners were selected from about 25 entries. Niles High School sophomore John van der Linden was the first place winner, Edwardsburg High School junior Tyler VanBuren won second place and Niles High School sophomore Andrea Clabaugh won third place.
All of the essays centered on the theme "Being the Best I Can Be" and all of the winners offered some inspiring insights on the topic.
First up was third place winner Clabaugh, 15, daughter of Thomas and Barbara Clabaugh.
Her essay stated being the best can differ from person to person.
She said it was important to set goals for herself so that she could test her limits and grow as an individual.
Clabaugh's essay also stated the importance of overcoming her fears.
VanBuren, 17, son of Thomas and Coral VanBuren, began his essay by mentioning the ultimate sacrifice of giving one's life.
VanBuren went on to say in order to live a complete life, he must have an affect on the lives of others.
VanBuren ended his essay by saying "I want to live my life to the fullest through love. That is how I can be the best I can be."
First place winner van der Linden, 16, son of Peter and Judy van der Linden, read his essay last.
He began by stating the impact that each individual can have on our society.
"As a result, it is essential that each citizen realize the vital role he or she plays in shaping our dynamic society."
He went on to mention the importance of helping others in life.
All of the winners received optimist essay medallions and a variety of other prizes including gift certificates and memberships to the YMCA.
The Junior and Niles Noon Optimist Club will be holding an optimist game night with free games, pizza and pop on March 30 from 6 to 9 p.m. in the upper level of the newly renovated Bell Telephone building on the corner of Third and Sycamore Street.
For more information, call (269) 687-4332.

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