GREAT FALLS – The CM Russell Museum hosted its 50th annual Proclamation Ceremony this week, and honored students who participated in this year’s fifth-grade essay contest.

Dating back to 1969, the City of Great Falls established a yearly proclamation ceremony declaring March to be “Charlie Russell Month” in honor of his birthday on March 19th.

Fifth-grade students throughout the community were able to tour the museum during January.

Tours included a guest appearance by an actress posting as Charlie’s wife, Nancy Cooper Russell.

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More than 900 students participated in the essay contest, and 22 winners were announced on Friday (see below).

“It’s a lot of work getting it all put together and what not, but getting to read what the kids write and seeing how passionate they are about it during their tours and essays, makes it all worth it,” said education coordinator Melissa Werber.

You can see their essays displayed at the museum for the rest of the month.

Reporting by Elizabeth Transue for MTN News

The museum released the following information on Friday afternoon:

The C.M. Russell Museum honored students who participated in this year’s Fifth Grade Essay Contest during its 50th annual proclamation ceremony on Thursday, March 1, 2018. Essay contest winners from 22 participating city and county schools were announced, and two grand prize winners were honored. Great Falls Mayor Bob Kelly read the proclamation, officially making March “Charlie Russell Month.”

During the ceremony, the grand-prize winners Madisyn Peters, representing the county from Centerville Elementary School, and Mason Duggan, representing the city from Loy Elementary School, read their winning essays aloud to the audience. Madisyn and Mason received a monetary award and a framed print of Charles Russell’s oil painting, When the Nose of a Horse Beats the Eyes of a Man (1916).

Teachers of the grand-prize winning students were awarded with a gift certificate for art supplies.

For the fourth year, an illustrative component was added to the contest in addition to the essay. Students decorated C.M. Russell Museum postcards to illustrate their writing in the flavor of Charlie Russell. Winning school essays and corresponding postcards will be on display at the museum throughout the month of March.

Bus transportation for the school tours and all other costs related to this event are funded by generous contributions from the Holm Family, US Bank, and D.A. Davidson.

The winners from the 22 participating schools are as follows:

Andrew Dullum, Belt; Trennen Tait, Cascade; Madisyn Peters, Centerville; Hayden Aguilar, Chief Joseph; Kimber Koteskey, Foothills Community Christian School; Sage Peressini, Holy Spirit Catholic School; Harlee Barrow, Lewis and Clark; Meredith Trunkle, Lincoln; Rheanna Stanford, Longfellow; Mason Duggan, Loy; Brady Pike, Meadowlark; Treyton Lee, Morningside; Ella Faulkner, Mountain View; Morgan Davis, Our Lady of Lourdes; Trever Stahmer, Riverview; Colin Hicks, Roosevelt; Faith Bray, Sacajawea; Addison Lambert, Sunnyside; Maya McKnight, Valley View; Emma Mattern, Vaughn; Miala Raymond, West; Julez Rodriguez, Whittier.