Veterans for Peace Poetry Contest announce winners 

The Gainesville chapter of the Veterans for Peace's 2023 poetry and peace scholarship winners.
Courtesy of VFP Gainesville

The Veterans for Peacy (VFP) recently selected 26 poems as winners in its 13th annual Gainesville Poetry Contest.  

The winning pieces were chosen from 237 poems submitted and will be included in the 2023 Peace Poetry Book. 

The winning poets read their poems at the Peace Poetry Reading and Reception on May 6. At the event, the winners received a certificate of accomplishment, copies of the bound 2023 poetry book, and a gift card to a local bookstore. 

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Veterans for Peace members believe that peace-making and hope for a peaceful world begins in our community. They believe the young generations gold the power to lead, transform, and inspire peace.  

Four students were also awarded $1500 Peace and Social Justice Scholarships. The VFP scholarship is a separate college scholarship program for Alachua County high school, college or vocational students who apply and demonstrate commitment and leadership activities involving peace and social justice.   

Winners of the 2023 Peace Poetry Contest: 

  • Rylee Keith, Grade 1, Caring and Sharing Learning School 
  • Daniel Atria, Grade 2, Jordan Glen School 
  • Henry Teaford, Grade 2, Jordan Glen School 
  • Chu-Mei Anderson, Grade 3, Jordan Glen School 
  • Kylie Nobles, Grade 3, Jordan Glen School 
  • Audrey McNall, Grade 4, Chester Shell Elementary School 
  • Sol Primosch, Grade 4, Jordan Glen School 
  • Reyam Abed, Grade 5, Hidden Oak Elementary School 
  • Maddie Deigl, Grade 5, Hidden Oak Elementary School 
  • Paxton Ferry, Grade 5, Hidden Oak Elementary School 
  • Parker Gunnett, Grade 5, Hidden Oak Elementary School 
  • Brock Laplant, Grade 5, Hidden Oak Elementary School 
  • Nik Paranjpe, Grade 5, Jordan Glen School 
  • Alliyah Johnson, Grade 6, Micanopy Academy 
  • Taliyah Briggs, Grade 6, Resilience Charter School 
  • Jayne Beaty, Grade 6, Jordan Glen School 
  • Lucas Young, Grade 6, Jordan Glen School 
  • Emma Zuvich, Grade 7, Queen of Peace Catholic Academy 
  • Natalie Jones, Grade 7, Howard Bishop Middle School 
  • Sophie Slimak, Grade 8, P. K. Yonge Developmental Research School 
  • Isaiah Josey, Grade 8, Howard Bishop Middle School 
  • Juan Castillo, Grade 8, Queen of Peace Catholic Academy 
  • Katherine Scarlett, Grade 8, Queen of Peace Catholic Academy 
  • Natalie Heard, Grade 9, Micanopy Academy 
  • Natalie Rodriguez, Grade 11, Micanopy Academy 
  • Skylar Scott, Grade 12, P. K. Yonge Developmental Research School 

Veterans for Peace 2023 Scholarship Winners: 

Carmelos Brown is a retired US Army veteran from Williston. He is majoring in Organizational Management at Santa Fe College and is a leader with My Brother’s Keeper and other first-generation college success programs at Santa Fe. 

Laylani is a student at Pace Center for Girls in Alachua County. Laylani plans to attend Florida A&M University and to eventually matriculate to law school to help create a fairer criminal justice system in the United States. 

Rahel Berelsman is a senior at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School. She is also a full-time dual enrolled student at Santa Fe College. Rahel plans to attend the University of South Florida and to embark on a career as a travel nurse in developing countries. 

Adrian Price is a Santa Fe College Honor Society Student. He is the president of the Santa Fe Justice Club as well as a volunteer at the House of Hope Prison Transitional Ministry. He will enter the Radiography Program at Santa Fe in the fall. Adrian is the recipient of this year’s Peace Scholarship named in honor of John A. Penrod, a veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Republic and a lifelong social justice activist in Alachua County. 

To view photos and to see the 2023 Peace Poetry book and for more information about VFP, visit the website.  

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The name “Veterans for Peace” is very misleading. The name implies that other veterans are not for peace. I’m a veteran, as was my father. Every veteran I’ve ever known was for peace but we didn’t strive for that goal through imposing weakness on others. We believe peace through strength and consistent moral and social values was better.


Jane Fonda is an Advisory Board Member of Veteran’s for Peace. Hanoi Jane is NOT a veteran, nor is she a friend to veterans!

Any organization that is associated with Jane Fonda is probably better off not to be trusted!

As a veteran, I am all for peace, but through the projection of strength as a nation and deterrence of war through necessary action on the part of like minded countries.