2018 American Legion Michigan Law Officer of the Year

Lawerence Burwell, Law & Order Subcommittee Chair; Sgt. David Gillem, 2018 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year; and Department of Michigan Commander Brett Holt.

JULY 11, 2018 (LANSING, MICHIGAN) – Sergeant David Gillem of Grand Rapids has been named The American Legion, Department of Michigan, 2017-18 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.  The 18-year veteran of the Grand Rapids Police Department received the award at the organization’s 100th Annual Department Convention in Kalamazoo on June 22.

The Legion recognized Gillem for his distinguished public service career.  He was named GRPD’s Vice Unit Supervisor in 2017 and has been a Hostage Negotiator since 2007.  Gillem has received numerous awards for his efforts in both long-term cases and crisis situations.  Several successful outcomes in hostage situations are the result of his negotiating expertise.  His investigative skills, diligent analysis of data,  and keen ability to read situations and respond with great sensitivity and decisiveness has resulted in the saving of lives and making neighborhoods safer for the citizens and visitors of Grand Rapids.  

“Sgt. Gillem is a loyal and sharply-focused professional police officer who has made the City of Grand Rapids a safer community and thus has improved the quality of life for many of its citizens and visitors,” according to Captain Curt VanderKooi, Commander of the Investigative Division, GRPD.

Gillem earned a bachelor’s degree in Counseling from Southeastern University in 1995.  He was a police officer with the Holland Police Department for four years before joining the GRPD in 2000.

In addition to a long list of specialized training and numerous awards and recognition, Gillem has served in the community as a volunteer for several organizations including Degage Homeless Ministry and as a soccer coach.

The American Legion also recognized the 2017-18 Firefighter of the Year, five individuals as Teacher of the Year, Eagle Scout of the Year, and the Oratorical Contest winner.  Legionnaires also voted in 2018-19 Department Commander Steve Striggow and other department officers.  Medal of Honor recipient and keynote speaker Jim McCloughan was also named the Legionnaire of the Year.  

The American Legion
The American Legion is the largest wartime veterans service organization with nearly 2 million members in 12,875 posts in communities across America. Chartered by Congress in 1919, The American Legion is committed to mentoring youth and sponsoring wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security, and continued devotion to our fellow servicemembers and veterans.

Cathy Hill of Dollar Bay named Teacher of the Year

JULY 9, 2018 (LANSING, MICHIGAN) – Dollar Bay school teacher Cathy Hill received one of five Teacher of the Year awards June 22 from The American Legion at its 100th Annual Convention in Kalamazoo.  More than 80 teachers were nominated for the award that recognizes educators who stand out in Competence, Community Involvement, and School Involvement in programs that include Patriotism, Americanism, and Community Service.  

Hill has taught in the Dollar Bay-Tamarack City Area School District for more than a decade.  She brings to life diversity and understanding of other cultures for the students in her class.  In 2016 she took 54 students to the Presidential Inauguration.  Students, veterans, and community members attend the Veterans Day Program that is put on by her U.S. History class students.

Five teachers are awarded annually by The American Legion, Department of Michigan, one in each of its five zones.  The other teachers recognized are Carla Young of Garden City Public Schools, Larry Quick of Lansing Community Schools, George Lasecki of Sandusky Community Schools, and Scott Doederlein of Gaylord Community Schools.  Each teacher is awarded a $500 grant for an education project of their choice.  Each teacher receives at $500 grant to use in an educational project of their choice.

In addition to recognizing the 2017-18 Firefighter of the Year, Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, Eagle Scout of the Year, and the Oratorical Contest winner, Legionnaires voted in 2018-19 Department Commander Steve Striggow and other department officers.  Medal of Honor recipient and keynote speaker Jim McCloughan was also named the Legionnaire of the Year. 

Scott Doederlein of Gaylord named Teacher of the Year

JULY 9, 2018 (LANSING, MICHIGAN) – Gaylord Middle School teacher Scott Doederlein received one of five Teacher of the Year awards June 22 from The American Legion at its 100th Annual Convention in Kalamazoo.  More than 80 teachers were nominated for the award that recognizes educators who stand out in Competence, Community Involvement, and School Involvement in programs that include Patriotism, Americanism, and Community Service.  

Doederlein has taught 7th – and 8th -grade science and social studies for 21 years.   The school’s Veterans Day celebration draws nearly 600 veterans and community members hosted by the 500 students in a special patriotic salute.  Each veteran in attendance is recognized and receives a gift, and after the ceremony the veterans depart through a tunnel of flags.  Doederlein, a grandson of a World War II soldier, promotes patriotism and love of country through the classes he teaches, the sports he coaches and the life he lives, according to Gaylord School Superintendent Brian Pearson who nominated the teacher for the award. 

Five teachers are awarded annually by The American Legion, Department of Michigan, one in each of its five zones.  The other teachers recognized are Carla Young of Garden City Public Schools, Larry Quick of Lansing Community Schools, George Lasecki of Sandusky Community Schools, and Cathy Hill of Dollar Bay-Tamarack City Area Schools.  .  Each teacher is awarded a $500 grant for an education project of their choice.

In addition to recognizing the 2017-18 Firefighter of the Year, Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, Eagle Scout of the Year, and the Oratorical Contest winner, Legionnaires voted in 2018-19 Department Commander Steve Striggow and other department officers.  Medal of Honor recipient and keynote speaker Jim McCloughan was also named the Legionnaire of the Year. 

George Lasecki of Sandusky named Teacher of the Year

JULY 9, 2018 (LANSING, MICHIGAN) – Sandusky Community Schools teacher George Lasecki received one of five Teacher of the Year awards June 22 from The American Legion at its 100th Annual Convention in Kalamazoo.  More than 80 teachers were nominated for the award that recognizes educators who stand out in Competence, Community Involvement, and School Involvement in programs that include Patriotism, Americanism, and Community Service.  

Lasecki has taught in the Sandusky schools for 25 years.  Community service projects he is involved with are the Sandusky Park Project, the Food4Friends Food Drives, and the Diamond Trail Fitness Project.  Community members continue to enjoy Sandusky Park with its upgraded playground equipment that was installed in 2005.  Since 2012, families in need have benefitted from the food distributions that Lasecki and his two children have spearheaded through Food4Friends.  The grand opening of the Diamond Trail Fitness Project is scheduled for this summer and is Lasecki’s latest project.   

Five teachers are awarded annually by The American Legion, Department of Michigan, one in each of its five zones.  The other teachers recognized are Carla Young of Garden City Public Schools, Larry Quick of Lansing Community Schools, Scott Doederlein of Gaylord Community Schools, and Cathy Hill of Dollar Bay-Tamarack City Area Schools.  Each teacher is awarded a $500 grant for an education project of their choice.

In addition to recognizing the 2017-18 Firefighter of the Year, Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, Eagle Scout of the Year, and the Oratorical Contest winner, Legionnaires voted in 2018-19 Department Commander Steve Striggow and other department officers.  Medal of Honor recipient and keynote speaker Jim McCloughan was also named the Legionnaire of the Year. 

2018 American Legion Michigan Firefighter of the Year

Lawrence Burwell, Law & Order Subcommittee Chair; Captain Todd Shorkey of the Bay City Department of Public Safety, 2018 American Legion Michigan Firefighter of the Year; and Department of Michigan Commander Brett Holt.

JULY 11, 2018 (LANSING, MICHIGAN) – Captain Todd Shorkey of Bay City has been named The American Legion, Department of Michigan, 2017-18 Firefighter of the Year.  The 23-year veteran of the Bay City Department of Public Safety received the award at the organization’s 100th Annual Department Convention in Kalamazoo on June 22.

The Legion recognized Shorkey for his distinguished public service career.  He was named Bay City’s Firefighter of the Year in 2009 and again in 2017.  Known for his high standard of performance and his passion for the job of firefighting, Shorkey is certified by the Firefighters Training Council in several areas and has won numerous awards.  He is active off-duty with the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Fill the Boot campaign and is currently working to obtain the United States Coast Guard 100 Ton Captains License which will assist him in his work on the Princess Wenona boat cruises.  

“Capt. Shorkey provides excellent care to our citizens during incident responses, often going above and beyond to make sure the residents, patients and family members are comfortable and secure,” according to Bay City Fire Chief Karey Prieur.  “He shows great concern for the welfare of others and is actively involved in finding solutions to difficult challenges. ”

Shorkey began his career in firefighting in 1990 as a member of the Bangor Township Fire Department. He began with Bay City Department of Public Safety in 1994.  He has served as a Firefighter/EMT, Driver/Engineer, Lieutenant, and Captain. 

The American Legion also recognized the 2017-18 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, five individuals as Teacher of the Year, Eagle Scout of the Year, and the Oratorical Contest winner.  Legionnaires also voted in 2018-19 Department Commander Steve Striggow and other department officers.  Medal of Honor recipient and keynote speaker Jim McCloughan was also named the Legionnaire of the Year.  

The American Legion
The American Legion is the largest wartime veterans service organization with nearly 2 million members in 12,875 posts in communities across America. Chartered by Congress in 1919, The American Legion is committed to mentoring youth and sponsoring wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security, and continued devotion to our fellow servicemembers and veterans.

 

Caro youth appointed key position at Michigan Boys State

The American Legion remains committed to educating and preparing future leaders about character, civic engagement and patriotism through this annual summer program.

June 22, 2018 (ALLENDALE, Mich.) – Delegate Johnathon  Botkins of Caro was appointed Environment and Natural Resources Secretary by the Michigan Boys State Governor in the weeklong civic experience held at Grand Valley State University.  Botkins is a senior at Caro High School and was sponsored by the Exchange Club of Caro.  The American Legion Boys State program is a weeklong, hands-on experience that mirrors the structure and operation of state government. The program provides training in practical citizenship, leadership and character through a non-partisan lens. This is the 80th Michigan Boys State to take place.  Students from across Michigan have participated in The American Legion Boys State program.

The program consists of classroom work, lectures and camaraderie, with student delegates taking on elected and appointed roles to learn firsthand how democracy works and legislation is passed.

The staff and volunteers aim to inspire students to follow in the footsteps of former delegates. The list of notable alums includes President Bill Clinton, athlete Michael Jordan, rock star Jon Bon Jovi, news personality Tom Brokaw, and former U.S. Peace Corps director Gaddi Vasquez, to name a few.

Complete details on the program can be found at MichiganBoysState.org. 

About The American Legion
The American Legion is the largest wartime veterans service organization with nearly 2 million members in 12,875 posts in communities across America. Chartered by Congress in 1919, The American Legion is committed to mentoring youth and sponsoring wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting a strong national security, and continued devotion to our fellow servicemembers and veterans.

Grand Haven youth elected key positions at Michigan Boys State

JUNE 19, 2018 (ALLENDALE, Mich.) – Delegates Bennett Lowe and Christian Hudson were elected governor and lieutenant governor of the model Michigan Boys State in the weeklong civic experience held at Grand Valley State University.  The two seniors attend Grand Haven High School and were sponsored by The American Legion Charles A. Conklin Post 28 in Grand Haven.  The American Legion Boys State program is a weeklong, hands-on experience that mirrors the structure and operation of state government. The program provides training in practical citizenship, leadership and character through a non-partisan lens. This is the 80th Michigan Boys State to take place.  Students from across Michigan have participated in The American Legion Boys State program.

More than 250 students attending from across Michigan have also elected John Dickens of Grand Rapids as the Secretary of State for the week and Alex Cannoot of Marquette as the Attorney General.  Others attending have been elected and appointed to fill positions to run the mythical state, county and city government positions.

The program consists of classroom work, lectures and camaraderie, with student delegates taking on elected and appointed roles to learn firsthand how democracy works and legislation is passed.

The program aims to inspire students to follow in the footsteps of former delegates. The list of notable alums includes President Bill Clinton, athlete Michael Jordan, rock star Jon Bon Jovi, news personality Tom Brokaw, and former U.S. Peace Corps director Gaddi Vasquez, to name a few.

Complete details on the program can be found at michiganboysstate.org. 

About The American Legion
The American Legion is the largest wartime veterans service organization with nearly 2 million members in 12,875 posts in communities across America. Chartered by Congress in 1919, The American Legion is committed to mentoring youth and sponsoring wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting a strong national security, and continued devotion to our fellow servicemembers and veterans.

High school students participate in The American Legion Michigan Boys State educational program

More thaN 250 students to attend the 80th American legion Michigan Boys State program to learn about the democratic process, including the structure and operation of government 

June 6, 2018 (ALLENDALE, Michigan) – From June 17-23, The American Legion Boys State program, held at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, brings more than 250 boys from across the state to learn firsthand what it means to be engaged in their community and participate in a democratic society. The American Legion has been administering the non-partisan program nationally since 1935 and this is the 80th year that the Michigan Boys State model has come to life as delegates take on elected and appointed roles to experience democracy in action and learn how legislation is passed.  The students, who have just completed their junior year of high school, campaign for office, draft bills and work together to solve real-world issues facing their cities, counties and state.  A group will tour the state capitol on Friday, June 22, and meet with Lt. Governor Calley and other state leaders. Graduation takes place Saturday, June 23, where the two delegates to represent the State of Michigan at The American Legion Boys Nation are announced. 

The American Legion Boys State program started in Illinois in 1935 and came to Michigan in 1938. By participating in mock local, county and state government exercises, delegates learn firsthand about leadership, practical citizenship and the democratic process through activities that include legislative sessions, court proceedings, presentations, bands, choruses and recreational programs.

The iconic photo of a young future President Bill Clinton shaking hands with then President John F. Kennedy highlights the power of Boys State and Boys Nation.  A number of graduates have been elected to public office or serve in prominent positions in business, the news industry, professional athletics, and the arts.  Alan Keyes, Richard Cheney, Lou Dobbs, Rush Limbaugh, Tom Brokaw, Steven Osusami, Michael Jordan, and Jon Bon Jovi are all Boys State graduates. 

About The American Legion
The American Legion is the largest wartime veterans service organization with nearly 2 million members in 12,875 posts in communities across America. Chartered by Congress in 1919, The American Legion is committed to mentoring youth and sponsoring wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting a strong national security, and continued devotion to our fellow servicemembers and veterans.

High School junior headed to Indianapolis for national constitutional speech contest

Brother beats out brother

WYOMING (April 4, 2018)—Aaron Siebelink, a homeschooled junior from Wyoming, will compete April 14 and 15 in Indianapolis at The American Legion’s 2018 National Oratorical Contest, where 53 high school orators will speak on the U.S. Constitution and compete for a chance to earn up to $18,000 in scholarships.

Siebelink, who is active in local theater, won his first round against his older brother, a senior headed to Grand Valley State this fall, in a Zone competition that earned him the opportunity to compete at state level in February of this year. 

Contestants prepare an eight- to 10-minute oration on some aspect of the U.S. Constitution, along with four three- to five-minute speeches on assigned topics drawn from the Articles and Sections of the U.S. Constitution.  The contest has been around since 1938 and exists to develop deeper knowledge and appreciation of the U.S. Constitution among high school students. 

The Oratorical Contest is one of many programs sponsored for local students by The American Legion, Department of Michigan.  Some of the opportunities for Michigan high school students to learn more about their government and earn scholarships for college through The American Legion include a week at Boys State, Girls State, and the Youth Career Law Enforcement Program.   

The American Legion, Department of Michigan, mirrors the parent national American Legion organization in its programs and service to veterans, families and communities, as well as having a working relationship with the Michigan Legislature.   The American Legion was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919 and is the world’s largest wartime veterans service organization.