ST. LUCIE COUNTY, FL – The winners of the ninth annual Dr. Samuel S. Gaines Essay Contest were recognized at the May 9th, 2017, St. Lucie County School Board Meeting. The contest, sponsored by Proctor Construction Company which provides cash prizes for the winning entries, is part of the district’s recognition and celebration of African American history.

Local students in grades three to 12 may write an essay describing a person of African American descent in St. Lucie County who has made a difference in the student’s life, explaining what the person did to make such an impact. The contest is named for Dr. Gaines, who served on the St. Lucie County School Board for 34 years, five times as chairman. At Dr. Gaines’ retirement in 2006, Superintendent Michael Lannon instituted the essay contest to honor Gaines’ legacy.

The contest winners this year are:


1st place – Sianne Neston (Ft. Pierce Westwood High School)

2nd place – Thuytran Vo (Port St. Lucie High School)

3rd place – Terry McQueen (Ft. Pierce Central High School)



1st place – Joanne Neston (Dan McCarty Middle School)

2nd place – Deborah Reese (Lincoln Park Academy)

3rd place – Dominique Thomas (Palm Pointe Educational Research School @ Tradition)



1st place – Nathan Oliver Hamilton (Palm Pointe Educational Research School @ Tradition)

2nd place – Jocelyn Garcia (Samuel S. Gaines Academy)

3rd place – Tyler Reid (Palm Pointe Educational Research School @ Tradition)