South Windsor Patriotic Commission announces poster and essay contest winners
By South Windsor Patriotic Commission
South Windsor - posted Wed., Jul. 3, 2013
On this patriotic July 4 holiday, the ReminderNews would like to share with its readers some of the essays written by South Windsor students for the South Windsor Patriotic Commission’s annual poster and essay contest for South Windsor residents in grades K-12.
The 2013 winners are as follows:
Poster Contest, K-2, My Favorite Patriotic Holiday
1st: Hailey Deptula, K, Orchard Hill Elementary School
2nd: Rilee Harris, second grade, Pleasant Valley Elementary School
3rd: Kami Tarantino, first grade, Pleasant Valley Elementary School
Grade 3-5 Essay: My Favorite Connecticut Historical Person and Why
1st: Sophie Crane, fourth grade, Pleasant Valley Elementary School
2nd: Pranav Ramesh, third grade, Eli Terry Elementary School
3rd: Keshav Ramesh, fourth grade, Eli Terry Elementary School
Grade 6-8 Essay: What is Means to Me to be an American
1st: Aaron Yao, eighth grade, Timothy Edwards Middle School
2nd: Vivian Ngo, seventh grade, Timothy Edwards Middle School
3rd: Victoria Pellegatto, sixth grade, Timothy Edwards Middle School
Grade 9-12 Essay: What is Means to Me to be an American
1st: Tushar Gaddi, 11th grade, South Windsor High School
2nd: Mary-Kate Harper, ninth grade, South Windsor High School
3rd: Bridget Sharos, 10th grade, South Windsor High School
First Place winner - grade 6-8
"What it means to be an American"
By Aaron Yao - 8th Grade, Timothy Edwards Middle School
“You are Chinese, not American!” my grandma once said to me when I was little. “No, he is an American!” my parents corrected. “Being American is not about how you look. American citizens consist of people with all different ethnic backgrounds because America is an immigration country.” At first, I didn’t know whether I was American or Chinese. But as I grew up, I learned more and more about the country’s history and system. I understood more and more about what it meant to be an American, and I was proud to be one.
What I learned in school about American history helped me understand more about what it means to be an American. I found out our country is very unique in the world, as it was founded on the idea of freedom and the culture of liberty, equality and compassion. I’m proud that we have a history of fighting to be independent and finding justice for all Americans.
For example, in America’s history, there had been many problems based on race, such as slavery and inequalities for African-Americans. However, the American people realized that wasn’t right so they passed the Civil Rights Act. I’m especially proud that we are a nation that is brave and wise to self-correct in many ways.
I also feel very fortunate to be an American when I learned that America was a democratic country that offers freedom and equality to all its citizens. This is the country where everyone can pursue their “American Dream.” There isn’t media censorship from the government like many other countries. When I traveled to China last summer, I couldn’t access YouTube or Facebook because the Chinese government blocked them. The people there don’t like it but they are helpless. In our country the people have a say in politics. We vote for our presidents and we vote for decisions being made locally and nationally. We have rights and responsibilities for the future we have. These still remain as dreams for the people of many other countries.
One special thing about being an American is the different roots and heritage that each one of us carries. Immigrants founded this country, developed this country and made this country better and better. They brought their talents, skills, ideas and dreams to this country and contributed in every area of the American life and made America the leader in the world community. Being American doesn’t make me ignore my Chinese heritage that my family inherits. On the contrary, it helps me to achieve success in many aspects of my life.
Over the years, I learned what being an American truly means. I found out that being an American means being part of a diverse culture and society. It means that you are a member in a big family that has many opportunities and lots of freedom. It means that you help others when they are in need despite the differences. Now that I have discovered this, I know my responsibility as a member of the country’s new generation. The youth of the country is the future of the country. I’m willing to do my best to preserve this country’s legacy of being a fair, just, and free country.
First Place winner - grade 9-12
"What it means to be an American"
By Tushar Gaddi - 11th grade, SWHS
The United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth. No other country comes close to her strength and courage. It is a model for other countries who want to be as successful as we are. Perhaps the greatest thing that America has is its government. Our sense of democracy is what makes us so special. We are not ruled by a dictator or a tyrant, but by ourselves. Our common belief in freedom and equality for all is what other people want to come to America for. Our founding fathers took great lengths to ensure the future generations that America would pass the test of time and that she would not crumble like so many nations had before.
Whenever I learn more about American history and government it makes me more thankful to God that I am a citizen of this great land. I take so many things for granted because I, like so many other Americans, do not realize the opportunities we have from just living here. It makes me proud to say that I am an American because of how all the citizens come together as a “great melting pot.” It means that all our beliefs, cultures, and ideas merge into one. No one is treated differently or out-cast based on the color of their skin, ethnicity, or how they behave.
I find it astonishing that a country could have so much tolerance when they have so many cultures living in one place. To me America gives me the opportunity to live as I please. If I work hard enough, I know that there are no boundaries to oppress me. In the Declaration of Independence, the line that resonates throughout American society is that everyone is entitled to their “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This is basically saying that you have the power to do anything you want as long as it does not put your fellow citizen in harm’s way.
Also, the fact that we have the right to speak about topics openly is amazing. Our freedom of speech is probably one of the most defining parts of our society. No other country’s government has so much lenience towards the right to freely express ourselves. If I said or protested against something in some other countries, I would either be arrested or fined.
These ideas such as freedom of speech and equivalence were radical about two centuries ago. It was an alien thought to think that people were “born” with equality or that people could speak as they wish. America took a revolutionary step to ensure that even the lowliest, poorest person could have the same chance of success as a rich person.
My belief in the American Dream is another part of what it means to me to be an American. The American Dream is what attracts so many people from other countries, such as it did to my family and me. When immigrants set foot on American soil, they know that they will lead a better life than the one they had in their home land. There are numerous reasons why people come to America but the main reason why so many immigrants are able to come is because America is one of the few countries who welcome them with open arms. They are not rebuked or discriminated against because Americans are always trying to help one another. We treat complete strangers as our brothers and sisters because of the common set of ideals that we believe in.
To me, being an American means having freedom. I have the freedom of speech, the power to vote fairly, the right to practice whatever religion, equality in the courtroom, etc. I admit that I take many of these rights for granted but I am very grateful to live in such a beautiful country. The United States of America will continue to prosper and be the symbol of hope for immigrants who decided to start a new life here. The set of ideals that America has will be set in stone for many centuries to come and our future generations will help protect them.
Second Place winner - grade 9-12
"What it means to be an American"
By Mary Kate Harper - 9th grade, SWHS
America: land of the free and home of the brave. Being a citizen of this magnificent country means the world to me because I almost wasn’t a part of it. As a baby I was adopted from the Philippines and was granted citizenship in November of 1999. When I was younger, I didn’t really understand how significant this gift was to me... Now that I am older, I can really appreciate what my parents did for me and how lucky I am to be where I am today.
The Philippines is not what you can call a well-to-do country. Poverty reigns supreme in society and the people often live right on top each other... Being American has given me the opportunity to live a safer life and I will never forget that. What the Philippines lacks in wealth though they make up for in a historically rich culture. They have kept many prominent traditions alive through colorful and lively celebrations which are just as or even more important than the amount of money they have. I have had the pleasure of being able to experience many portions of this great culture through my parents and through reading about them.
There is also no loss of culture in the United States either which makes me very proud. If anything, we have enhanced our culture by giving others the chance to share theirs with us. For example, with the first amendment, freedom of religion, we have exposed ourselves in a great way. The way that we have welcomed other religions into our country for hundreds of years says so much about the character of Americans since we were 13 colonies. We live in the land of opportunity and we give people the chance to be themselves and in turn they give others the chance to know them. This is what I love about the United States. We welcome and encourage individuality while maintaining a strong unity within our people. I know that my brothers and I will never be persecuted for being from a different country which again makes me feel blessed to be American. We learned our lesson even though it took too many lives to realize what our forefathers were telling us; it doesn’t matter who or what you are.
Third Place winner - grade 9-12
"What it means to be an American"
By Bridget Sharos - 10th grade, SWHS
The wise Abraham Lincoln once said, “I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.” This quote expresses the bond between a country and the people who live in the country... The pride one shall express for its country is so extensive that no other feeling in the world can compare...America is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. I feel a lot of pride when I say I am American.
America is a country based on democratic values and liberties that most countries could only dream of. It means a great deal to me that our founding fathers took so much time and effort to create a government system with so many rights. Our founding fathers, after being suppressed by the King of England for so long, wanted to ensure that the new nation’s government wouldn’t become too powerful. The Constitution of the United States created the check and balance system to enforce that America couldn’t be taken over by a dictatorship. Furthermore, this Constitution had a bill of rights that discussed all the liberties that being an American citizen would benefit from...
...I strongly feel that those who come to America feel a sense of welcome and community. However, it has been a struggle to obtain this land of immigrants. There have always been issues with race and religion. America was cursed with the horrifying events of slavery, segregation and nativism. However, we have surpassed all of these obstacles and have seen that a majority of the American people have fought for equality. Our country has come out consistently victorious when the eagle’s flight and majesty has been threatened. It has taken time to create the country we know and love today, even though it’s not perfect, I feel that it’s a standard of success and diversity that other countries have to live up to.
...There is an American spirit and pride that unifies the country regardless of gender, race, and ethnicity. Even when our democratic values and liberties are threatened we will always fight for what is right. This is truly the American way. It’s in our laughs, tears, wars, and fears that our country was built. And for that I am truly honored to be an American.
First Place winner - grade 3-5
"Why Harriet Beecher Stowe is my Favorite CT Historical Figure"
By Sophie Crane - 4th grade, Pleasant Valley Elementary School
Harriet Beecher Stowe is my favorite Connecticut historical person because she accomplished things that were very rare to do in her time, especially for women, and because she stood up against injustice to try and make the world a better place. She broke through the expectations of women in the 1800s. She fought for better education and careers for women, and changed the future for girls like me.
Education was very important to Ms. Stowe, and she worked hard to go further in school, even though this was not expected of girls. Not only did she do what women were expected to do by taking care of her family and home, but she went beyond that. She worked as a teacher and she wrote 30 books, including “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” which encouraged people to take a stand against slavery.
She was against slavery in a time when most people still believed in slavery and standing up for it meant that you could be hurt or go to jail. Despite these risks, Ms. Stowe stood up for what she believed in. She used her writing to help convince others that slavery was wrong. She also helped slaves escape through the Underground Railroad.
I admire Ms. Stowe for her courage. She showed the world what intelligent women are capable of doing if they put their minds to it and if they are brave enough to take risks. She is a role model for all girls. She inspires me to stand up for what I believe in and to never give up on my own dreams.
Second Place winner - grade 6-8
"What it means to be an American"
By Vivian Ngo - 7th Grade, Timothy Edwards Middle School
What does it mean to me to be an American? This question has crossed my mind a few times. Now that I think about it, being an American does not just simply mean that we were born or live in the United States. To be an American means that as citizens we each have many freedoms. Being an American also means having and accepting equality among all people. Similar to freedom, to be a civilian of the U.S. means that every person who is part of this country has numerous rights. To sum it up, being American symbolizes that as a country we are unique and stand out from other countries of the world, and that is what makes the people of the United States proud to be called American. That is what I believe it means to be American.
Freedom is exceedingly important to Americans; without it, we really have nothing. Having freedom is what it means to me to be an American. Many current residents of the U.S. have ancestors that journeyed here to America in the past for the promise of independence as individuals. Americans have the freedom of religion, implying that people who aspire to be Catholic or Jewish, as an example, are allowed to believe in the Catholic or Jewish faith. In addition, Americans have the opportunity to decide what career to pursue.
In the country of India today, the Hindu Caste System is illegal, but in the past, the family that you were born into determined your job, your public status, and who you were allowed to marry. Here in the United States, as long as you work hard and fulfill the requirements of the career, you are perfectly able to decide what job you hope to perform.
One important freedom we have as citizens of the U.S. is the freedom of speech. The freedom of speech is being able to express our needs, opinions, emotions, or whatever is on our minds without the fear of restriction on our words. As Americans, having this freedom lets us voice our own opinions, which has most likely aided the resolutions of important issues. Of course, with privileges comes responsibility, so foul or offensive language could get a person into a serious trouble. Overall, to be an American means to have freedom in many ways along with certain laws to ensure equality and justice for all the essential ingredients for a great and prosperous country.
From my point of view, being an American means that you respect that every person is created equal. A person’s gender does not and should not influence the way someone else sees them. In the U.S., a woman is not required in any way to stay home to cook, clean, and perform regular household chores. Likewise, it is not mandatory for a man to be a construction worker or a mechanic. I believe that being an American means that everyone accepts and respects fairness in opportunity between males and females. However, that is not the only important equality that needs to be recognized.
Today in America, people of all different races are treated equally. There are laws against discrimination because Americans became aware that segregating people due to their looks or their nationality was wrong. Skin color should not determine where you are allowed to go, work, or live. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a historic American civil rights leader that essentially everyone knows about. He strongly believed that all people were created the same, not one seemingly better than another. Martin Luther King, Jr., is important to America because he made people understand that being an American means that everyone is equal, especially between blacks and whites. Overall, I see that being an American means you honor the fact that everyone is equal and should be treated equally.
In America, people have rights of various types. Our forefathers created the Constitution and the Bill of Rights that guarantee necessary rights for Americans. Without these rights, our lives would be completely controlled by the government or even dictators. A highly important right that Americans of 18 years or older have is the right to vote. Voting for our government leaders allow Americans to have a say over who they feel should be elected into office to represent them. To me being an American means that we have rights that make a safer, more stable country for us to live in. Without being given the right to vote, any government party could take over office and run the country in the way they want to. Also, without the right to vote, we wouldn’t have a democracy, but possibly the opposite, a dictatorship.
We also have the right to a fair trial. This means that if a person is charged with a criminal offense, they must be allowed to have a fair trial by a righteous court. For criminal cases, all people are innocent until proven guilty. The police, council, or government cannot just keep them in jail or put them in jail without a reason and evidence. Another important right as an American is the right to remain silent, this is also known as the Fifth Amendment. Many people have heard this before, maybe in movies or in books, police officers saying when making an arrest, “You have the right to remain silent.” By law, they are required to say this before being able to use anything the arrested person says in court. I see that being an American means that you have the right not to say anything to anyone even if you have or have not committed a crime. When you have the right to remain silent, it means that you have the right not to incriminate yourself. In other words, you don’t have to tell the police anything that might prove that you are guilty in any way. All things considered, I believe that being an American means that you have rights that are both beneficial to people and the government.
In any case, Americans are different from any other people on the Earth. To me, being American means that you have freedom, freedoms that numerous citizens in other countries may not have. There is equality for all citizens and not one single person who can stand above anyone else. Thanks to our founding fathers, Americans have rights. We possess rights that ensure our protection in several ways. In conclusion, I feel that being American signifies that we are unlike any other people. It is not just our government that makes us so distinctive, but also the civilians that live here, making the United States the great country it has become. That is what it means to me to be an American.
Third Place winner - grade 6-8
"What it means to be an American"
By Victoria Pellegatto - 6th Grade, Timothy Edwards Middle School
What does it mean to me to be an American? Let me tell you what I think!
To be an American means I can be proud of the country I live in: The United States of America. I can freely and proudly say the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem. When I see the Statue of Liberty it reminds me of all the immigrants who came here for freedom and a better life. I have the right to vote for who I want and not be picked on for who I choose. Women in other countries do not have this opportunity.
I have freedom of speech and say what’s on my mind. People will hear my great ideas and appreciate them.
It means I can have a great education and learn everything I need to know in school with all different races of people: African-Americans, whites, Hispanics and all the other races. Just to be able to go to school is a gift in it self. In America, we can get a great and successful education!
It means I can find a job that I want and pick a shift and hours suited for me.
To me, being an American is the greatest thing of all. I can be free and proud of my country, not be worried about being treated unfairly and go to school and get an education to accomplish anything I want in life. All of these reasons are what I think it means to me to be an American!
Second Place winner - grade 3-5
"My favorite CT historical person"
By Pranav Ramesh - 3rd Grade, Eli Terry Elementary
My favorite historical person from Connecticut is Eli Terry, Sr. I like him because he made clocks that were his own type. When I grow up I want to make something that will be useful to people. Not a lot of people were special for making clocks. Eli Terry was special because he made the types of clocks that people wanted.
He first started as an apprentice for Daniel Burnap. Then as he started to make his own clocks, his apprenticeship for Daniel Burnap ended. He made different types of clock parts like brass or wooden dials. His clocks weren’t selling a lot when he started making clocks, but eventually people started buying his clocks.
A fact I know about him is that one of Eli’s sons is named after him.
He inspired me by his handwork and persistence. Whenever I make a game on the computer, it reminds me of him. I try to put the best details to make it better.
Something I like about Eli Terry was that he never gave up on anything. That inspired me to never give up on anything, even if it is too hard. He also earned the first patent that was ever given to a clock mechanism by the United States Patent Office. His sons turned out to be clock mechanists, too.
One thing that is similar between the two of us is that we both like building things. That is why he is my favorite historic person.
Third Place winner - grade 3-5
"My favorite CT historical person"
By Keshav Ramesh - 4th grade, Eli Terry Elementary
My favorite Connecticut historical person is Oliver Ellsworth. Ellsworth, one of the nation’s founding fathers, was a lawyer and jurist from South Windsor. Ellsworth represented Connecticut in the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He served as one of Connecticut’s first two senators in the new federal government between 1789 and 1796. Ellsworth also represented the Committee of Five that prepared the first draft of the Constitution.
In the spring of 1796, Ellsworth was appointed the third Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and also served as commissioner to France in 1799 and 1800. He created the Judiciary Act, defining how the federal court system of the United States worked. Ellsworth was a calm, obedient man who politely argued and discussed law and politics. Since I want to become a lawyer and politician when I grow up, I know I have to follow the steps he took to become a lawyer.
Ellsworth was considered an eloquent speaker. His debates made an impression among the public as well as the other leaders. With these talents Ellsworth was able to support the Connecticut Compromise, which decided it was unfair for larger states like Virginia to have more power than smaller states. This inspired me, since I feel that every state, territory and province needed equal amount of representation and power. I also prefer everything fair, just, equal and of vital importance. Ellsworth should be considered as a man who brought peace and equality to our country. He supported Alexander Hamilton’s idea for incorporating the Bank of the United States.
When Rhode Island was not happy with the Constitution’s laws, they denied joining the United States. Ellsworth played a major role to make Rhode Island accept the Constitution and become a state. I was amazed that without force he was able to bring Rhode Island back to the United States. Ellsworth also left a message through an amendment to change the word “National” to “United States.”
After retiring, Ellsworth lived the rest of his life in South Windsor, Connecticut. He passed away on November 26, 1807. Oliver Ellsworth is the great lawyer who worked to make our country what it is today.