Student Essays Funeral

Youth Essay Contest

The winners of Lodi Funeral Home's annual Youth Essay Contest were recognized during the Memorial Day Patriotic Remembrance on May 29, 2017 at Lodi Memorial Park & Cemetery. All San Joaquin County area middle and high school students were invited to participate, and submissions were accepted at the funeral from through the entire month of April. The contest's purpose was to inspire youths in our community to learn more about this important holiday.

2017 Essay Winners:

Lodi Community Outreach, a program of Lodi Funeral Home, Inc., will announce the winners of their Memorial Day Youth Essay Contest on May 29, 2017 in a special awards ceremony during the Memorial Day Patriotic Remembrance.

Six winners of this contest will share cash prizes totaling $1,600! Winning essays will be featured on Lodi Funeral Home, Inc.'s website, social media pages, and other related print and electronic media.

This essay contest was open to all San Joaquin County area middle and high school students and submissions were accepted at the funeral home during the month of April 2017. All entries had to be presented in a personal essay format, with 500 to 525 words on the true meaning of Memorial Day.

Official Contest Rules


1. Eligibility: Entrants must be middle or high school students enrolled in the San Joaquin County, CA area School District. Entries from private, charter and home schools will also be accepted.

2. Format: Entries must be presented in the format of a Personal Essay, between 500-525 words, using a double-spaced 12-point font and must include a bibliography (not included in the word count).

3. Topic: “The True Meaning of Memorial Day”. Students are encouraged to discuss the essay theme with teachers, parents and friends. The essay should be positive and clearly focused on the theme. Teachers and parents may check essays, but the content of the essay must be that of the student.

4. Research: Research is essential in creating a quality essay. Please cite library resources, Web URLs with access dates, and personal interviews.

5. Bibliography: The bibliography must cite at least two references. Entries that do not include a bibliography will be disqualified.

6. Essay Entries: Must be submitted and received between April 1 and April 30, 2017. Entries cannot be acknowledged or returned, and they become the property of Lodi Funeral Home. Essays should be mailed to: Lodi Funeral Home, 725 South Fairmont Ave, Lodi, CA 95240. Entries must be accompanied by a 3x5 index card, attached but not stapled to essay containing the following information: contestant’s name, address, phone number, student ID number, and name of parent/guardian who will accompany contestant at the related Essay Contest Awards Ceremony.

7. Evaluation Process: Winning essays will be selected on the following basis:
>25 points—Originality and creativity
>25 points—Compliance with the assigned topic
>20 points—Factual accuracy
>15 points—Grammar and organization of content
>15 points—Scope of research

8. Awards: $500 will be awarded to one each middle and high school first place winner; $200 will be awarded to one each first place runner-up at both middle and high school levels and $100 will be awarded to one each second place runner-up in both middle and high school levels. Each winner and his/her parent/guardian must be present to receive their prize.

2016 Essay Winners:

High School:

First Place: Kameron Fernandez

Second Place: Avneet Kaur Gill

Third Place: Ana Sandoval

Middle School:

First Place: Rebecca Brodehl

Second Place: Angelica Magallon

Third Place: Katie Moreno

Throughout the course of the year, Our Community Outreach hosts free workshops, seminars, and remembrance events intended to enhance the well-being and overall health of the Lodi area communities. All of our outreach events are free of charge and open to all, regardless if they have been served by our company.

There wasn’t enough room in the Massachusetts church for the many mourners attending a funeral service Sunday for Lafayette College student McCrae Williams, who died of a head injury last Monday. Campus police found him unconscious when they responded to a medical call for a student who had been drinking, the college confirmed.

So numerous were the friends and family gathered at First Parish Church of Weston that some were ushered into side rooms, where they viewed the service by video remote.

Among the friends who delivered eulogies for Williams, a 19-year-old freshman who was recruited to play lacrosse at Lafayette, was Ramesh Nagarajah. Visibly saddened and shaken, Nagarajah was also angry.


“I am in disbelief that McCrae is gone and how it happened,” he said. “I am baffled to what happened and how kids my age could turn away from someone at their time of need.”

In one of the side rooms, the remark elicited sobs. “We didn’t know,” one young woman cried out.

Asked to shed light on Nagarajah’s statement, Northampton County Chief Deputy District Attorney Terrence Houck declined to comment, as did Lafayette College spokesman Mark Eyerly.

Houck said last week that investigators are interviewing numerous students to determine how Williams died. Easton police have not released any details about Williams’ death but said they are trying to determine if alcohol was involved.

Eyerly confirmed that the campus public safety officers who found Williams unconscious outside his dormitory on Sept. 10 were responding to a medical call for a student who had been drinking.

Frank Warner

Williams died of a “blunt force head injuries” a day later at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest, according to the Lehigh County coroner’s office. That injury occurred in a fall, parents and students at the boarding school Williams had attended were told in a letter from the headmaster. A spokeswoman for the school said the information came from the Williams family.

Easton police have said only that Williams was involved in a “chain of events” they believe began Saturday, Sept. 9. They said Lafayette College officers found Williams when they responded to a medical emergency at 4:22 p.m. the following day outside Ruef Hall North.

According to the Lafayette College Office of Public Safety crime log, campus officers responded to an alcohol-related call at Ruef Hall North at 4:22 p.m. Sunday, listing the nature of the call as “purch, consume, poss, trans of liquor.”

That call was to seek help for Williams, Eyerly said.

“When our officers arrived, they were told that the student needing medical attention had been drinking; the officers logged the call as related to the purchase, consumption, possession or transportation of alcohol,” he said.

The Northampton County 911 log shows a call for help at Ruef at 4:17 p.m. It was dispatched two minutes later as an advanced life support call, with police, ambulance and fire crews responding.

At Williams’ funeral, hundreds of cars lined the streets near the church, wrapping around blocks. Young people openly sobbed as they clutched each other for support.

They spoke lovingly about the bright and charismatic teenager who had the talent to achieve much.

Nagarajah, who attends the U.S. Naval Academy, said he wore his military uniform to the funeral because it was Williams who insisted that he accept the academy’s offer of admission when he himself had wavered.

“I’ll never understand the unfairness of the loss,” he said, expressing the sentiments of many others in attendance.

High school teacher Kimberly Libby read an essay that Williams wrote about his first impressions of Massachusetts, where his family moved to from England when he was a child. He wrote about the forest behind his home and how scary it seemed compared to his tiny fenced-in English garden. With trepidation one day, he gathered the courage to explore it, taking blue ribbons with him to tie around trees so he could find his way home.

The essay ended in the present, with Williams walking through a now familiar forest, his dog by his side. Deep in the woods, he comes upon a piece of tattered ribbon on a tree — a treasured remnant of childhood that he tucks into his pocket.

Reporter Christina Tatu contributed to this story.


The emergency response that followed a call for help for Lafayette College freshman McCrae Williams:


4:17 p.m.: Northampton County 911 call for help outside Ruef Hall North at Lafayette College in Easton

4:19 p.m.: Ambulance, police and fire crews are dispatched to an advanced life support call at Ruef Hall North.

4:22 p.m.: Lafayette College public safety officers respond to Ruef Hall North, listing the nature of the call as purchase, consumption, possession or transportation of alcohol.


5:02 p.m.: Williams dies at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest.

Sources: Lafayette College Office of Public Safety and Northampton County 911 logs

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