Olive Garden is asking students “How would you help end hunger in your community?” as part of the Pasta Tales national essay writing contest.

Students in first through 12th grades are invited to submit an essay of 50 to 250 words with their ideas for ending hunger in their communities.

The grand-prize winner of the contest will receive a three-day family trip to New York City that includes dinner at the Olive Garden in Times Square and a $2,500 savings bond. In addition, Olive Garden will provide a $5,000 grant to bring the winner’s essay to life by supporting hunger initiatives in his or her local community. The winners in each of the 12 grade categories will be awarded a $500 savings bond and a family dinner at their local Olive Garden restaurant.

Pasta Tales entry forms and complete rules are available online at http://www.olivegarden.com/About-Us/News-and-Media/Pasta-Tales/. All entries must include the writer’s first and last name, complete address, phone number with area code, grade, date of birth including year and a statement that the work is his or her own. Entries must be postmarked by March 22 and sent to Pasta Tales, PMB 2000, 6278 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308-1916.

Gonthier earns Eagle Scout

A Baton Rouge teen recently received the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America that a young man can earn.

Only about 5 percent of all Boy Scouts earn the Eagle rank.

To earn it, a Scout must progress through six ranks, serve in a leadership position within his troop, provide service to the community and earn a minimum of 21 merit badges, of which 12 — in such areas as finance, family, citizenship and personal fitness — are required.

A Scout must also plan, develop and give leadership to a service project for any religious organization or any school or community.

Ian Gonthier

AGE: 18

SCHOOL: Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts in Natchitoches

PARENTS: Cindy Whitehead Gonthier, of Baton Rouge, and Gerard Gonthier, of Alpharetta, Ga.

TROOP: Troop 103


SPONSOR: Knights of Columbus Council 9692

EAGLE PROJECT: He refurbished and embellished a U.S. political map painted on the sidewalk of St. Francis Xavier Catholic School of Baton Rouge to help make learning geography fun for the students.

EXTRA: Ian earned 37 merit badges and served his troop as patrol leader, scribe and instructor. He was also elected to the Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s national honor society.

St. Thomas More wins again

The St. Thomas More Catholic School Future City team won the Future City Regional competition in January in Hammond and will compete in the national competition in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 18 for the grand prize, a week at Space Camp.

Eighth-grade students Chris Alumbaugh, Josh Brooks and Laura Kaiser teamed up with their teacher Shirley Newman and volunteer engineer mentor William Johnson, a chemical engineer with Jacobs Engineering in Baton Rouge.

This is the 14th year for a St. Thomas More team to win at the regional level, including competitions in Louisiana, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Alabama. St. Thomas More won the national competition in 2005 and 2007, placed second twice and fifth once.

Sponsored by the nation’s professional engineering community, Future City aims to stir interest in science, technology, math and engineering among young people. Students design future cities on a computer and then use a blueprint to build a model of a city section. They also conduct research for an essay on a pressing social need.

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