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East County Wednesday, Mar. 10, 2010 7 years ago

A call for patriotism

by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

MANATEE COUNTY — The Lakewood Ranch Elks on Feb. 26 honored seven local elementary and middle school students, who won the organization’s recent essay contest, which was themed “The American Dream: What is It?”

Winners were selected in two age brackets with Division 1 covering grades five and six and Division II covering grades seven and eight. Winning entries will be submitted to the Elks national essay contest, and winners will be announced at the Grand Lodge Session in Orlando July 4-8.

The Elks received more than 200 essays for the local competition. Listed below are the winning entrants and excerpts from their essays.

Madelyn Kumar, 11
Willis Elementary School
First place, Division I

Madelyn is the first generation of her family born in the United States. Her family was the inspiration behind her essay. Her proud parents are Lana and Avi. Her brother is Alex.

“Based on my knowledge of why my family came here, I’ll talk about our American dreams: opportunity, each generation living better than the last and reaching your full potential …

America is the land of opportunity, the place to start over and where you can reach your full potential. The American dream is different for everyone, but I choose to express these three because this is what America means to my family. America is land of the free and home of the brave.”

Scarlett O’Hara, 10
Willis Elementary School
Second place, Division I

Scarlett said Abraham Lincoln and Helen Keller were the inspiration behind her essay. Her proud parents are John and Kate. Siblings are Houston and Penelope.

“The American Dream is a two-step process. One is having an opportunity, and the other is what you do with it. If you have no opportunity, you can’t make your dream come true. What’s more, even if you have an opportunity, if you don’t try hard, your dream won’t come true.

Everyone gets the same opportunities in America regardless of their gender and race. … Having opportunities alone doesn’t make the American Dream. You need to make the most out of the opportunities.”

Shelby Ryskamp, 11
Braden River Elementary
Third place, Division I

Shelby said the inspiration behind her essay was the ability to pursue life, liberty and happiness. Her parents are Lynne and Nick. Brother is Daniel, 15 months.

“In the United States Declaration of Independence, it states: ‘… that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ And that is what the American Dream is to me …

This is what the American Dream meant to our forefathers over 200 years ago, and that’s what it still means today.”

Savannah Carpenter, 11
Freedom Elementary School
Third place, Division I

Savannah said the inspiration for her essay was “what people had to go through when they didn’t have the rights we have now.” Proud parents are Paul and Jennifer, and siblings are Kailey and Nolan.

“Freedom to me is to be able to go to school and to sit wherever I want at lunch. Freedom to me is to be friends with whomever I choose, no matter what color, religion or race. Freedom means everything to me.
If we could all wake up from that dream of ours and make it come true, we would all then understand the word freedom. Freedom is a privilege so appreciate it and remember those who gave that privilege to you and those who didn’t have it. This is what I see to be the American dream.”

Tristan Sypula, 13
Braden River Middle School
Second place, Division II

Tristan said the inspiration for his essay was his freedom of choice. Proud parents are Brenda and Philip. Siblings are Dillon and Jenna.

“The American dream means having choices and opportunities …

The combination of choices and opportunities equals freedom, freedom to live in a country where I can be who I want to be. The American dream means if I can dream it, I can live it. So dream big!”

Alexandra Bobelis, 14
Braden River Middle School
First place, Division II

Alexandra said the inspiration for her essay was her grandfather, who came to the United States from Lithuania. Proud parents are Jonas and Ruta. Brother is Casey.

“The reason he chose America: freedom, a beacon of hope and rights. His family would have the liberty to become something, anything, as long as they set their mind to it.

Not only my grandfather, but many other ethnic groups settle to America to start a new life of hope; A life of freedom and rights …

America allows so many cultures to evolve within it, that it has become a place where dreams are made.”

Gabby Murphy
Braden River Middle School
Third place, Division II

Gabby said the inspiration behind her essay was everything about American life. Her parents are Jeff and Jennifer. Her siblings are Griffin, Garrett and Grady.

“America is blessed in having the privileges we do. Many countries don’t have these rights. Before America was discovered, many people longed for the chance to make their own decisions. Our founding fathers thought this to be important. Thanks to them and their perseverance, we now have our gracious America.”

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