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Local Fifth Grader wins National Essay Contest

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For one local, young author, a holiday visit with Grandma became food for thought for an essay that has won a statewide writing award. Kylie Williams from Challenger Elementary has won first place in the state in the Florida Retired Educators Association Annual Fifth Grade Essay Contest. The honor was announced at the Florida Retired Educators Annual Convention at the Orlando Hilton Doubletree near SeaWorld. Kylie’s winning essay titled “Grand-Ma Day” has now been published on a FREA poster for widespread distribution.

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The fifth grade essay contest, according to a FREA website, was created to encourage writing abilities in fifth grade students. It is also a wonderful way for students to show appreciation and love for the important older people in their lives, be they grandparents or someone close who enhances their life on a daily basis.

Nancy Snyder, a former Hernando County reading coach and member of HCREA (Hernando County Retired Educators Association), serves on the essay committee and stated that Kylie’s ending made her essay particularly special. “My grandma made the best meal ever,” said Snyder. “Now I know why they call it grand-ma!”

“Grand-Ma Day” captures a special holiday memory for the Williams family; a Thanksgiving morning that found Kylie cooking at the side of her beloved grandmother. “I woke up Thanksgiving morning so happy to see my grandparents. I was so excited for my grandma to come over and cook with me. You may think why not my mom?” she wrote. “Let’s just say the smoke alarm has gone off once or twice (we do not like to talk about the incidents). But I also love my grandma and I know it is going to be very fun.”

Also fun was Kylie’s humorous essay, now making readers laugh across the state. “I felt really happy and excited when I heard I’d won,” said Kylie, an 11-year-old Spring Hill resident about to enter the sixth grade at Challenger. Writing is an art that comes naturally to Kylie. “I always liked writing and started in the second grade,” she said. “I always like to make my stories very funny, and to express myself. I like to make people laugh and to share my stories with many people.”

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Kylie’s love for humor comes through in her prose. “She made a game called ‘whoever can chop the celery into the most pieces without cutting any of your fingers off,’” she wrote of her cooking experience with her grandmother. “Not a great title but a great game. The best part was we both still have ten fingers each!”

For this straight-A student, writing doubles as one of her favorite hobbies and her top course of study. “Writing is my favorite thing to do,” she said. “I like to write poems and stories in my free time, and to write in class.” It was in the classroom at Challenger, in fact, that she first found out about the FREA essay contest. And her school principal called her into a conference to notify her of her win, which included a certificate and a cash prize. “I was proud to have my work represented,” she said.

Kylie’s other interests include reading, everything from Shakespeare to Harry Potter, and cheerleading and gymnastics. She has, in fact, been a competitive gymnast for five years with the Top Contenders studio. In the future, she hopes to become either a professional writer or an attorney. In the meantime, Kylie encourages other kids to pick up a pen and try their hands at essay writing. “Do your best,” she encouraged. “You’ll be good at it!”

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