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Darden, Shirah win Juneteenth contests

LANETT — Erin Darden, a 2021 graduate of Lanett High School, is the winner of the 2021 “What Does Juneteenth Mean Today” essay contest. This past school year, Darden was a student in Stacey Rollins’ Advanced English 4 class at LHS. She plans to attend the University of West Alabama where she will study nursing.

Erin is the daughter of Alezandria Bowser and Eric Darden Sr. of Lanett and has five siblings. In high school, she was a cheerleader, a member of the Beta Club and played on the Lanett High basketball and volleyball teams.

Winning second place in the essay contest was Juan Hernandez. The third-place award went to Ny’Asia Stanford. These students will receive $100, $75 and $50 cash awards. The presentations will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Juneteenth Festival in West Point River Park.

Marleigh Shirah, 10, a rising sixth grader from LaFayette Lanier Elementary School in Valley, won the poster contest for students in grades 3 through 6. Marleigh is the daughter of Ericka Jones. She has a brother, loves reading and playing softball. She plans to be a zoologist when she grows up.

The Greater Valley Juneteenth Committee sponsors a series of events such as essay and poster contests during the year. They also provided Juneteenth Tool Kits to local schools.

Weather permitting, the local Juneteenth Festival will be taking part in three phases on Saturday. From noon until 6 p.m. EDT, it will be in West Point River Park. From 6 p.m. until 9 p.m., it will be outside the Jane Farrar Event Center in downtown Lanett. The day’s activities will conclude with a 9 p.m. fireworks show on the Lanett Mill site.

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