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16th annual Bob Camden competition
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Among the top high school winners in the annual Give Every Child a Chance Bob Camden Essay Contest were, from left, Weston Ranch High winner Timothy Duong, Lathrop High and district winner Farhat Khairzodah, and New Vision High winner Jaime Contreras. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

The 16th Annual Bob Camden Essay Contest winners were recognized Monday afternoon at the Manteca Unified School District Office where parents gathered to see their sons and daughters from fourth grade through high school being honored for their writing skills.

The list of winners in their age divisions were Cameron Kremerkotter, sixth grader from Lathrop’s Joseph Widmer Elementary School followed by Heaven Gonzalez, seventh grader at Lathrop Elementary School and Farhat Khairzodah, a sophomore at Lathrop High and the school district’s choice as well.

“A positive and safe environment for your school” was the chosen topic for the student essays.

Students not only received their award certificates but cash prizes as well, ranging to as high as $150 each from the sponsoring Give Every Child a Chance mentoring organization founded by the late Manteca developer Antone Raymus who wanted to see every student succeed.

Bob Camden was a Manteca High teacher who penned twice weekly columns for nearly 20 years, first for the former Manteca News and then for the Manteca Bulletin.  There are two first person books that are a collection of his columns available in the library.  He also authored a biography of Manteca real estate developer and philanthropist Antone D. Raymus.

Camden used his creative skills during the formative years of the Give Every Child a Chance mentoring and tutoring program by challenging the founding members with his “What If?” questions to stimulate critical thinking in students.

The essay winners in the fourth through sixth grade division included Inessa Villanueva, Brock Elliott School;  Kirsten DeJesus, George Komure School; Alyssa Matthews, George McParland School; Cameron Kremerkotter, Joseph Widmer School; Evan Lum-Russell, Lathrop School; Prissila Afre, Neil Hafley School; Christa Munoz, New Haven School; Daniella Torres, Sequoia School; Natalie Densmore, Shasta School and Amrit Bhinder, Veritas School.

Essay winners in the seventh and eighth division included Blossom So, August Knodt School; Liliana Pacheco, Brock Elliott School; Grant Wright, George McParland School; Heaven Gonzalez, Lathrop School; Maria Flores, Lincoln Elementary; Oriana Fortune, Nile Garden School; Rebecca Rosas, Stella Brockman School; and Michaela Bitle, Veritas School.

Three high school seniors won the top award for their schools.  They included Shawn Leong, Calla High; Isabella Garcia-Mendez, Manteca High; and Jaime Contreras from New Vision High School.  Sophomore Farhat Khairzodah from Lathrop High took first place for her school and district honors as well.  Weston Ranch freshman Timothy Duong was the winner from his school.  Junior Danny Moreno had the winning essay for Manteca Day School.