Members of Veterans of Foreign Wars posts in District 14 can stand a little taller.

Members, students and teachers headed to Marble Falls for the district meeting today where awards will be presented to District Voice of Democracy, Patriot’s Pen and Teacher of the Year winners selected from 11 VFW posts within the district including Killeen, Temple, Belton, Copperas Cove and Gatesville.

Three awards are given in each contest for a total of nine awards. Of those nine, the Copperas Cove VFW post has five of the winners including Natalie Honts, a teacher at S.C. Lee Junior High School with Gina Taber of Belton New Tech High School and Katelyn Bragewitz of Tyler Elementary School in Belton receiving second and third places respectively.

In November, Honts was selected as VFW Post 8577’s Teacher of the Year in the middle-school category for her efforts to instill patriotism in her students.

Jill Guerin, instructional coach at S.C. Lee Junior High, nominated Honts for the award.

“She explicitly teaches students what it means to them as citizens when they stand, face the flag every morning, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance and how closely that allegiance is tied to our military community,” Guerin said.

In the Patriot’s Pen competition, all three winners were from Coryell County.

Jashua Cademartori and Noah Luna, both from Cove’s S.C. Lee Junior High, won first and second place respectively. Garrett Pearce of Gatesville Junior High won third place.

In the Voice of Democracy competition, Ethan Becker of Belton High School won first place while Mackensi Holt and Emily Myers, both of Copperas Cove High School, won second and third place, respectively.

Honts, Cademartori and Becker will advance to the state competition and then to nationals in Washington, D.C., if they take home the top state awards in their respective categories.

All of today’s winners will bring home prize money, which varies depending on the contest and the placing of the contestants.

Former Voice of Democracy Chairman Chuck Downard of VFW Post 8577 in Copperas Cove attributes the high number of local winners to a team effort.

“We are getting better every year. That’s what it boils down to,” Downard said. “We get more support from the school and that makes a big difference.”

Contact Wendy Sledd at or (254) 501-7476

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