For Bordewich-Bray fifth-grader Vidhi Pandit, the Carson City School District’s essay contest was an opportunity to reflect.
“Until now I have never thought about why I love the United States of America,” she wrote in her essay. “I have only thought that I love it.”
Through her writing, she surmises that the resolve Americans have shown in times of adversity inspired her love of country.
“We live in a country founded by people who are focused and determined to succeed,” she said. “These people have overcome many of the obstacles, difficulties, and challenges they faced.”
Vidhi was announced during Tuesday’s meeting of the Carson City School Board as the winner at the elementary school level of this year’s essay contest, with the theme “If I had to explain to someone who lived in another country why I am thankful to live in America, I would say ...”
The winners for each level — elementary school, middle school and high school — will receive the following cash prizes: first place, $80; second place, $30; and third place, $15.
Winners were selected from 266 entries. There were 90 elementary school entrants, 58 from middle school and 118 at the high school level.
“How to explain the freedom?,” asked Claire Benson, an eighth-grader at Bethlehem Lutheran School, who won in the middle school category. “The feeling of peace, the passion that burns in my chest when I see our flag waving in the wind?”
In her essay, Benson continues to struggle to find the right way to express her patriotism.
“The lonesome sage in the middle of nowhere, content to be seen by nothing but the sun? Or is it a quiet grove of aspens whispering in the wind?”
But then she concludes, “I know what it is. It’s a painter, his brush painting a vividly bright scene. Free to paint what he wants. It’s music from a radio, the lyrics not guarded, the artist saying exactly what he wants to say.
“Or maybe I would just say one word. One word that makes the rest of this writing look like nothing. One word that changed history, and is sure to do it again. One word. Liberty.”
High school winner Porfirio Jauregui, a senior at Carson High School, shared his personal connection with freedom and how it empowers him.
“Growing up, my family lived in a rough neighborhood,” he wrote. “There were bars on the windows and my parents would not allow me to walk to school by myself. But there was a free education I could go to ... and it filled me with hope that I could become something greater than my current situation would generally allow for. Thus, I was (and still am) becoming a brave, bold thinker — one of the many that compose our country.
“Once you become brave, you become free.”