Seaford students are the American dream

Seaford American Legion hosts award ceremony for student essay contest winners


Continuing a half-century-long tradition, the Seaford American Legion honored children for writing patriotic essays last week, while also recognizing teachers in the district for their dedication to their students with the 2023 Teacher of the Year awards.

The Legion hosted its annual Americanism essay contest on March 20 at Edwin Welch Jr. Post 1132. The event, in honor of George Murphy, a past commander of the Seaford Legion who died in 2015, is a partnership with the Seaford school district and St. William the Abbot school, in which fourth- and fifth-graders write essays about America.

According to Charles Wroblewski, the Legion chaplain and the essay contest chair, the competition has been a tradition in Seaford for over 50 years. Elementary school students were given this year’s theme for the essays, the American Dream, in February. It reflected older generations’ hopes for the students, Wroblewski said.

“Our theme was the American Dream,” he said, “and that’s what these kids embody: the American Dream.”

Students gathered at the post with their friends and family members for the awards ceremony. The top three essayists in each grade from each school were presented with a trophy by a member of the legion. Taylor Diehlman, a 100-year-old World War II veteran and legionnaire, was the presenter for St. William the Abbot.

The fifth-grade winner at Seaford Manor Elementary School was Delaney Cassidy, who said she was excited to win the top prize and was happy to see her friends Madison Rainey and Grace McShane win second and third place. Delaney’s essay described how the American Dream is something that anyone can attain.

“To me, the American dream means that, in America, anybody and everyone, no matter where they’re from or what they are or who they are, can always accomplish their dreams and be who they want to be,” Delaney said. “That’s what it means to me.”

She said she entered the contest because she has a passion for writing, having written short stories for as long as she can remember. When she saw the chance to write about a topic that excited her, Delaney said, she signed up right away.

Her aunt Dawn Hoffmann, her grandmother Michelle Kirsic, and her brother, Roran Cassidy, were with her at the ceremony.

“I’m so proud of her,” Hoffmann said. “She’s one of the smartest young ladies I know.”

“It was fabulous,” Kirsic said of her granddaughter’s essay. “She’s very patriotic. Her grandfather is from another country, and he came here as an immigrant, so she appreciates that and understands that.”

Delaney’s grandfather Branko Kirsic came to the United States from Croatia in the 1960s.

After the trophy ceremony, the Legion honored its choices for 2023 Seaford Teachers of the Year. Educators from each of the schools were awarded: Harbor School teacher Tara Flood, Manor School teacher Ann-Marie Motisi, middle school teacher Stephanie Lucia and high school teacher Laura Maciag.

Each teacher was presented with a plaque by their school’s principal, who had nominated the teacher for the award. Lucia, who teaches sixth- and seventh-grade art, said it was an honor to receive the award.

“It feels great to be recognized for everything that you do in the classroom and outside of the classroom,” she said. “It’s just part of your daily job, and to have the opportunity for someone to notice you and be recognized for it makes it all worth it.”

Lucia has been teaching at the middle school for 17 years, and has been friends with Maciag since 2006, so it was a special moment for both to receive the award, Lucia said.

Maciag taught at the middle school for 25 years, has spent the past two years at the high school teaching American history, and will retire in June.

“There are no words to describe it,” she said of the award. “It’s pretty surreal, exciting, amazing. I work with the greatest bunch of people. Like, I don’t go to work, I go to school. It’s the best job ever.”