What does a person have to do to get a fire truck named after him or her for a whole year?

Three Effingham students won such an honor for winning a junior high school essay contest on “If you were going to teach young kids about fire safety, what would you teach them?”

Dick Kenter, public education officer for the Effingham Fire Department, said the contest is about reaching students they don’t normally reach.

Although firefighters often go into grade schools to talk to students about fire safety throughout the year, when students reach junior high, they lose that first-hand experience with the fire department.

In order to keep fire safety in their minds, the fire department came up with an essay contest related to fire protection. A winner from each city junior high school earns a certificate, plus their names go on one of the trucks for one year, said Kenter.

The winning student from Effingham Junior High School, St. Anthony Grade School and Sacred Heart School were presented with their certificates and unveiling of their names on the fire trucks during ceremonies at the schools on May 7.

Kaitlin Cordes, a sixth-grade student at Sacred Heart, was “very, very excited” to win the essay contest at her school, saying it was “very shocking” to have her name on a fire truck for a year.

“I wrote my essay about what I would teach young children about fire safety. I told them things such as to have their parents teach them a way out of the house and have them know two exits in each room and to have their parents check the smoke alarm battery every two month,” Cordes said.

Another winner found meeting Effingham firefighters more rewarding than having her name on the fire truck.

“There were at least five or six firefighters down there, and I got a certificate. They were very welcoming. They pretty much said I was able to come down to the fire station in the evening sometime to look through it,” said Kiaya Loy, a seventh-grader at Effingham Junior High. “They were very nice. I was really surprised by their kindness.

“I was actually extremely surprised that I won, because I know that there are a lot more creative people in my mind,” added Loy. “It was really shocking, and I was really proud of myself for being able to accomplish that.”

Luke Jansen, a sixth-grade student at St. Anthony Grade School, also was surprised to learn he had won.

“I was surprised because I entered the contest, and I didn’t think I’d actually win,” he said.

Jansen was pleased to have his name displayed on Fire Engine 573.

“I think it’s pretty cool. A lot of people will see it and think ‘that kid won something,’” Jansen said.

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