Seventh-grader Nadia Tung called President John F. Kennedy's words, "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country," a summation of "the American ideals of generosity, selflessness and patriotism."
Her submission in the American Citizen Essay Contest, sponsored by the Carson City School District and Wells Fargo Bank, won first place in the middle school category.
This year's contest, based on Kennedy's quote, drew 151 entries from schools throughout Carson City.
In her essay, Tung listed helping organizations that make a difference, but said ordinary citizens have the most impact.
"We prove that we are the generation that will take humanity to a whole new level - worldwide," she wrote.
Winners received a $250 savings bond at Tuesday's school board meeting and read their essays aloud. Second- and third-place winners received a $10 gift certificate to Keva Juice.
School board trustee Joanna Wilson commended the finalists. "It's exciting to see this and hear this," she said. "I think President Kennedy would be proud of these young people, as we all are."
In third-grader Curtis Basa's essay, he asserted that three ways people can serve their country "is to volunteer, get jobs that help others and to clean up nature."
"Cleaning up nature heals and protects our community, our country and our planet," he wrote.
Alana Woodbury, 16, wrote that the challenging times we live in have caused some people to act according to their own interests only. She cautioned against that.
"When President Kennedy proposed that the American citizen needed to 'Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country,' he hoped to relay the magnitude of hard work, patriotism and faith," she wrote. "After all is said and done, these are the things that will matter most. These are the things which will ensure the upholding of our greatest traits."
This year's winners:
First Place - Curtis Basa (Bethlehem Lutheran School)
Second Place - Jackson Jensen (Mark Twain Elementary School)
Third Place - Samantha Weddell (Fritsch Elementary School)
First Place - Nadia Tung (Carson Middle School)
Second Place - Ricky Frewert (Nevada Connections Academy)
Third Place - Juliana Anderson (Bethlehem Lutheran School)
First Place - Alana Woodbury (Carson High School)
Second Place - Ashley Saarem (Carson High School)
Third Place - Lisa Yamamoto (Carson High School)