ALTON, IL -- Leaders lead by both words and actions, and four Jersey Community High School sophomores recognized that in winning essays this spring about their “Healthy Heroes.”

BJC School Outreach and Development, in conjunction with Alton Memorial Hospital and the Alton Memorial Health Services Foundation, launched the “My Healthy Hero” essay contest with school districts around the Alton area. JCHS responded with 57 applicants.

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A panel of judges scored the essays according to form, clarity, personal impact, vision and values, and community impact. The winners were JCHS sophomores Emily Weishaupt, Caitlyn Hunter, Hali Shirley and Josh Yates.

“We were going to pick three winners, but these four were so good that we decided to go with four,” said Erica Oliver, a community health educator with BJC School Outreach. “We wanted students to write about someone who demonstrates health behaviors in the areas of eating habits, ongoing fitness, healthy relationships, being tobacco-free, being alcohol and drug-free, and kind behaviors.”

Three of the winning students wrote about their mothers and one wrote about her aunt. Emily’s aunt is Sandy Gibbons, and Emily wrote about how they share the same interests and that Gibbons “stays tobacco and drug-free, she maintains healthy relationships, and she has such a kind heart.”

Caitlyn wrote about her mother, Missy Frerichs. “I am in dance now, and my mom helps me to stretch and get ready for class. She also makes me healthy meals and keeps healthy snacks available. She pays for a membership at a gym for herself and me. She takes me there to work out three days a week.”

Hali wrote about her mother, Carrie Shirley, who used to smoke cigarettes but has been tobacco-free for two years. “I look up to my mom for quitting something that was bad for her health because even though it was a difficult thing to do, she followed through with her actions.”

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Josh wrote about his mother, Debbie Yates. “She has taught me how to completely respect myself as an adult and as a son to her. She has always told me to pick the right kind of friends so I wouldn’t get into trouble. I don’t know what I would do without my mom in my life.”

The four students were honored at an assembly near the end of the school year, where the essays were read and each received a framed copy of the essay plus a bag of prizes.

“We also want to thank Scott Burney, the health teacher at JCHS, who encouraged all of his students to participate,” Oliver said. “They all did a wonderful job.”


Four Jersey Community High School students were honored for their essays in the “My Healthy Hero” program this spring. At far left is Scott Burney, health teacher at JCHS; Josh Yates; Caitlyn Hunter and her mother, Missy Frerichs; and Hali Shirley and her mother, Carrie Shirley. Not present was the fourth winner, Emily Weishaupt. The program was sponsored by BJC School Outreach and Development, Alton Memorial Hospital and the Alton Memorial Health Services Foundation.



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