Monday, May 12, 2014

The American Immigration Council Announces Winners of the 17th Annual Celebrate America Fifth Grade Creative Writing Contest

For Immediate Release

May 7, 2014

Washington D.C. - The American Immigration Council is pleased to announce that the first place winner of our 17th Annual Celebrate America Fifth Grade Creative Writing Contest is Charlotte Leigh from the Carrollton School in Miami, Florida.  Charlotte’s poem was chosen from among thousands of entries nationwide. Her piece chronicles a family’s journey to America and their transformation upon their arrival.  Inspired by research done in class about immigrants, the novel The Orphan of Ellis Island by Elvira Woodruff, and her own family’s immigration story, Charlotte writes:

Ten years past for our family, it’s a different story,
They are settled in America and living in glory,
Their minds have cleared of nightmare past,
They are living their dreams at long last,
The daughters are in college with brains full of knowledge,
One wants to be a teacher, the other wants to be a preacher,
Dad went to night school to become a lawyer,
Mum is working as an apprentice joiner,
Who would have thought this family with such a terrible start
Could live their dream and become extremely smart?

To read the entire winning entry, click here.

Charlotte, who came to the United States from England as a baby, said, “growing up in America has been great even though I know my accent is different. I am able to get a great education and have made great friends.”  When asked what surprised her most about the United States, Charlotte said, “I was surprised by the way everyone spoke. Some of the words were different from what I would say. In England, everyone was patriotic, always waving the British flag. Here, we see lots of different flags.” Coincidentally, the announcement of Charlotte’s achievement fell on her father’s birthday. Upon receiving the news, David Leigh said, “It’s my 50th birthday today and the news is the best birthday present I could have asked for.”

The second place winner is Anya Shukla from Bellevue, Washington, and the third place winner is Zoe Scully from Saint Louis, Missouri.  Honorable mentions were awarded to Sofie Chester-Thompson from Raleigh, North Carolina, and to Andrea Langoiff from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

Charlotte will read her poem and receive her award at the American Immigration Council’s Annual Benefit in Boston on June 20, 2014. Her winning entry will also be read at Faneuil Hall, and all top five winners will receive a flag flown over the National Capitol.

The celebrity judges of the national contest include Gerda Weissman-Klein, founder of Citizenship Counts, Maria Teresa Kumar, President and CEO of Voto Latino, Marina Budhos, award winning author, and last year’s Grand Prize winner, Erin Stark.

25 Chapters of the American Immigration Lawyers Association participated in the contest. The top entry from each participating Chapter was judged by a panel of immigration experts who chose the top five entries sent to the celebrity judges.

2014 marks the American Immigration Council’s 17th Annual Creative Writing Contest, a national contest for fifth grade students sponsored by the Community Education Center. The contest provides youth with an opportunity to learn more about immigration to the U.S. and to explain, in their own words, why they are proud America is a nation of immigrants. 


 For more information, contact Claire Tesh at

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