2015 Peace Essay Contest: Elementary Grade Winners

            1st Place:  Andrew Pratt, gr. 4, Twin Hickory ES, Henrico Co. Public Schools
            2nd Place:  Lauryn Kumpe, gr. 5, Rivers Edge ES, Henrico Co. Public Schools
            3rd  Place:Jack Hensley, gr. 5, J. B. Watkins ES, Chesterfield Co. Public Schools
            Honorable Mentions:
             Perrin Gilman,  gr. 5, Tuckahoe ES, Henrico Co. Public Schools;
            John Kelleher IV, gr. 5, Colonial Trail ES, Henrico Co. Public Schools;
            Nikki Kumar, gr. 5, Twin Hickory ES, Henrico Co. Public Schools;
            Evan Kurtz,  gr. 4, The Williams School, Norfolk VA


1st Place: Andrew Pratt, gr. 4, Twin Hickory ES, Henrico Co. Public Schools

Inspiration for a Better World

It is possible to create a better world, a more compassionate, more peaceful world, which is not only in everyone’s interest. but everyone’s responsibility to achieve, says the Dalai Lama. What he means is that every has to help in the world, not just some people. Every person must find inspiration. My inspiration to make the world a better place comes from my family, my school and famous people in history.

My family motivates me to do things that Inever imagined doing. My mom isvery humble and she does blood drives to keep other people alive. My dad participates in golf tournaments, which he loves, to raisemoney for charity. My ninth grade sister raised money for her school , Deep Run High School this year. The school has a dance called the “Marathon Dance,” which is a dance where students must raise funds and dance for 27 hours straight to earn money for different charities. This year, her schoolraised $216,753. Wow! One thing my whole family does is donate canned food and clothes to our church. We also help a poor girl in Haiti named Vaniola by giving money so she can eat and go to school. My family does great things for the world. and they make me to do them too.

My school is Twin Hickory Elementary. We are a Blue Ribbon School, which is an award that is not given out to a massive amount of schools, and here is why: We have a garden called the “Learning Garden”, and a greenhouse where we grow vegetables that can be put in our cafeteria for us to eat at school. We also make donations like canned food collections and our ‘”Giving Tree. The “Giving Tree”‘ is a fundraiser during Christmas, where we give gifts to paupers and homeless familes that do not have them. Another helpful thing my school does is we have “Earth Savers”‘ and ‘”Heroes” clubs. In “Earth Savers, we go green by recycling paper, plastic, and different items from the cafeteria, like milk containers. But in “Heroes”‘ club, we help the community by doing activities with the elderly, giving items to the military and taking care of animals. My school s just like my family, where we all work together.

Famous historians have done some of the best things n the world. My first example is George Washington. He was the first president of the United States, which made him a great model to United States citizens and presidents after him. My next example is Abraham Lincoln. He was the sixteenth president of the United States. He ended slavery for the whole country and somehow kept the North and the South balanced before the Civil War. Another example is the Dalai Lama. He won a NobelPeace Prize for all of the inspirational quotes he gives, like the one I provided. My fourth example is Malala Yousafzai. She is also a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and she is a women’s youth activist.   Last year, she was Time For Kids “Person of the Year.   My last example is Martin Luther King, Jr. He fought for equal rights and gave his famous I Have a Dream speech that goes like this: “…1 have a dream, that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin.”Those are examples from history that inspire me to help the world.

Are you inspired to help the world now? I really hope you are. Now you know what it can take to inspire someone, so you should try to inspire other people yourself. I am fortunate enough to have people that inspire me to make a better world and they are my loving family my helpingschool and great leaders or famous people from history.


2nd Place: Lauryn Kumpe, gr. 5, Rivers Edge ES, Henrico Co. Public Schools


“…each of us must do something that makes our heart sing, because no one will want to do it with us if we are not passionate and inspired.” – Dalai Lama. Many people have inspired me to do good for our Earth over the years. Some of them include Dr. Seuss, Mahatma Gandhi, and Sir Isaac Newton.

“Today you are you. That is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.” – Dr. Seuss. This quote is only one of the many things that inspire me about Dr. Seuss. This quote inspires me because I think in our society there are too many people who feel they aren’t good enough because they aren’t like this popular person. If everyone took this quote to heart the world would be a better place because I think that there would be a lot less bullying, because some bullies bully because they feel insecure about who they are.

Mahatma Gandhi is someone who inspires me because he freed a nation being ruled by using non-violence. So many people as we speak (or as we write in this case) are being gunned down. This could all stop if we use non-violence to solve our problems like Mahatma did. This just in itself would make the world better by unexplainable amounts.

Sir Isaac Newton inspires me because he started school and was one of the smartest students, but then his mom pulled him out so he could be a farmer. He decided he wanted to finish school and look at how far he went! The point of my little anecdote is that you need to go to school! So many people are highschool or college dropouts. Then, these same people might not get high enough paying jobs to support themselves let alone their family. This is how we get homeless people begging for money. If people have at least schooling until the twelfth grade then, I bet you, the world would would have a lot less homeless and in poverty people.

In conclusion, the world would be a better place if at least 75% of people on Earth did three simple things, didn’t strive to be someone else, used non-violence to solve problems, and didn’t drop out of school, the world would be a more excellent place for the human race to live on.

3rd Place: Jack Hensley, gr. 5, J. B. Watkins ES, Chesterfield Co. Public Schools

 Listen to Jack’s recording from WRIR


There are many ways we can make this world a better place. One of them is to be peaceful. People who are peaceful are kind, caring, and helpful. When there is peace everyone gets along with each other. That would be nice, wouldn’t it? There would not be fights and people would appreciate one another. A peaceful worldis a much better world.

There are many people that inspire this world for the better. One of those people is Jackie Robinson. He was the first ever black MLB player; an All-Starthat played for the Brooklyn Dodgers and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. When Robinson began playing for the Dodgers, many people did not like black and white players playing in the same league. Because Robinson was the first black professional baseball player, people teased him, called him names, and threatened him. When these things happened, he did not fight back! He stayed peaceful and ignore them. He stayed calm and didn’t return insults or fight!

One thing you should definitely not do to be peaceful is fight. Fighting is the opposite of peace but stopping fights can inspire peace. If you see a fight going on, you can encourage the people fighting to stop and then resolve it by speaking calmly and listening. Teaching others to resolve their problems calmly all over the world creates peace!

Peace means wholeness in Hebrew. Sometimes when people hurt your feelings, it makes you feel incomplete. That is not a good feeling. It makes some people mad and angry and they want to fight back. What other people say about you doesn’t make you who you are; therefore, it shouldn’t matter. Jackie Robinson was made fun of but he chose to stay calm and didn’t listen to the insults. He felt whole despite the mean comments from fans and players. This is also a key to peace. Not fighting back. If someone says something mean to you, don’t say something mean back to make yourself feel better because it does not work. It just makes you feel more empty inside. It is better to stay calm, walk away, and ignore hurtful comments. It is better to be peaceful.

Like Robinson, the Dalai Lama also has a good way to inspire and encourage peace. He said to be kind in a way that “makes your heart sing.” Find a way to be peaceful that excites you and maybe other people will like the way that you are peaceful and will want to be peaceful and kind too! You can also teach others about peacemakers like Jackie Robinson, the Dalai Lama, Jesus, and Martin Luther King, Jr,. Maybe in learning about their stories, they will want to be peacemakers too!

Honorable Mentions:

Perrin Gilman, gr. 5, Tuckahoe ES, Henrico Co. Public Schools

Inspiration for a Better World

Who inspires me?  People don’t know this, but all day, every day, when people aren’t even looking, there is inspiration.  There are three important people in my life that inspire me, Arthur Ashe, Mrs. Merrick, and Mrs. Williams.  Throughout these paragraphs, you will see why these people inspire me and what they did to help me achieve my dream goals.

First off, Arthur Ashe inspires me. He inspires me because he was the very first African – American tennis player that played in Wimbledon and won.  That tells me that I CAN achieve my goals of being a tennis pro.  He also inspires me because he chose education before sports or any other activity.  My mom always tells me to do my homework before I go play tennis, jump on my trampoline, or go hang out with my friends.  Every time she says that, I think of Arthur Ashe.

Next, Mrs. Merrick inspires me.  She is my homeroom, fifth grade teacher.  She teaches Language Arts, Social Studies, and Reading.  When you get to fifth grade at Tuckahoe, we have two teachers, not one like previous grades.  Mrs. Merrick helped me blossom in writing.   I LOVE writing!!!  She inspires me to do my best in all of the subjects she teaches.  This year, my goal is to get all straight A’s on my report card.  So far, that’s happening.  I have two more semesters to go.  Mrs. Merrick is one of the kindest teachers in the WHOLE fifth grade.  I want to thank her for preparing me for middle school.

Last, but not least, Mrs. Williams inspires me.  Mrs. Williams is my math and science teacher.  I used to stink at math, and I also used to hate it.  When Mrs. Williams came along, she helped me out with math.  Now, I LOVE math, and I am actually quite good at it.  She inspires me because I want to achieve my math goal.  She is very encouraging, like Mrs. Merrick.  When I got my interim, I got a 97% in math, and that was my highest grade on there.  I was SO surprised!  I would like to thank Mrs. Williams for helping me blossom in math.  She and Mrs. Merrick are the kindest teachers in the WHOLE fifth grade.

If I could do something good for the community, it would be to help and volunteer for things, like the Virginia Home.  My mom volunteers for the Virginia Home, and I LOVE going there to help out.  It’s SO much fun going to all of the fun events, and meeting all of the nice people.  I love to volunteer to help people with disabilities.  That is my life.  I also absolutely love seeing the people at the Virginia Home smile when we walk in.  This would make the community better because there are some people in this world that have disabilities, and need help.  If we get more people to volunteer for stuff like that, the people at the Virginia Home, or anywhere else for that matter, would be happy and forget about their disability.

I would like to thank Arthur Ashe, for inspiring me to be a better tennis player.  I would like to thank Mrs. Merrick, for helping me blossom more in writing.  I would like to thank Mrs. Williams, for helping me do a better job in math.  Thank you.  I LOVE all of these people.

Jack Kelleher, gr. 5, Colonial Trail ES, Henrico Co. Public Schools

Have you ever wondered why people work so hard to achieve something? I believe that if you love to do something, you will work as hard as you can to do it well, and you will actually enjoy that hard work most of the time. Three things that I love and inspire me the most are art, sports, and history. As you read on, think about what you love to do and why those things inspire you.

Art inspires me because it takes me to places I could never see, and also lets me use my creativity. It makes me feel like I am escaping and that I am where I draw, because I can visualize it in my mind. I am actually so inspired by art that I am thinking about becoming an architect because I really enjoy drawing buildings, ships, and military vehicles. The artist who inspires me by following the Dalai Lama’s advice is my art teacher, Mrs. Thessen. She inspires me by being so interested in art and so enthusiastic about the artwork that we create. She wants to teach us everything that she knows about art because she loves it so much.

Sports also inspire me. When I play sports, I feel free of stress and everything unenjoyable. I feel awesome when I make an amazing play or my team wins a game. Sports challenge me mentally and physically in ways that school does not. A sports icon who follows the Dalai Lama’s advice is New England Patriots’ Quarterback Tom Brady. Tom Brady was not considered a top football prospect in college. Despite this, Brady worked hard and continued to be passionate about football. He was always low on the depth chart, and then after the teams had him for a few years, they realized how determined he was to do as well as he possibly could. Eventually in 1999 when he was drafted by the Patriots in the sixth round of the NFL Draft, Brady went to the franchise owner, and said, “Hi, my name is Tom Brady and I’m the best decision this franchise ever made.” Tom Brady was so inspired by his love of football that he went on to win four Super Bowls, and also inspired a whole new generation of Patriots fans like me. Tom Brady’s story of determination is one to model yourself after.

History is the third and final thing which inspires me. History inspires me because it helps me understand the world around me as well as why people act the way they do. Similar to art, studying history makes me feel like I am in another time and place, almost like I am escaping the world around me. Some people in history who followed the Dalai Lama’s advice were General George Patton as well as our first president, George Washington. George Patton inspired his troops to fight hard and win because he was not the type of man who sat around while everybody else did the dirty work. He wanted to do it as well and was sometimes in the battles with his troops. He saved the war in both Africa and Europe for the Allies during World War II. George Washington was a born leader and inspired thousands of colonists to rebel against the British. As a general in the Revolutionary War, Washington also inspired his men to cross the Delaware River in the dead of winter in a last ditched effort to save the Revolutionary War and create the United States of America. Washington then went on to become the first president of the United States.

As you can see, art, sports and history are what inspire me every day. I hope that by continuing to work hard to do these things that I love, I will be able to inspire other people just like Mrs. Thessen does at Colonial Trail Elementary School, Tom Brady does for the New England Patriots fans and George Patton and George Washington did when they were alive.   You should sit down and think about what inspires you, and trust me, it is pretty interesting.


Nikki Kumar, gr. 5, Twin Hickory ES, Henrico Co. Public Schools

Roots of Inspiration      

Inspiration is the most inspiring word in the English language. I think, to my understanding it means stimulation…which leads to motivation or feeling to do something better.  What factor inspires you not only to do the better task, but to do the task better which will thereby benefit you and others? It could be a person or animal, it could be a place or job, it could be a thing or nature which will inspire you to keep you moving on in your life.  Wars, hunger, unhappiness… Who is the one who helps us strive to prevent these things? The answer is our motivator and hero. My inspiration comes from many people. I walk down the road, I see a toddler picking up dying, shriveled up worms and steadying them into the grass, I see a teenager helping an aged woman carrying her groceries across the street, and a young girl opens the door for a disabled man in a wheel chair. What is inspiration, you may ask? Inspiration is that one thing that makes you eager to reach for the stars. We never think of the people who do those tiny actions which create a big impact on the world. But for me, they are the people I look up to.

The Social Service is one of the greatest inspirations for the better world. Social service means Mother Teresa, Mother Teresa means Social service.  She taught in India for 17 years before she devoted herself for serving the sick and poor. She provided a home as a center for the blind, aged, diseased, and disabled. She was invited to Rome in 1968 and 1979 to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for her humanitarian work. She is my biggest hero; can you believe how generous she was for devoting her life to those with disabilities? She makes me want to jump right out of my chair and follow her path to make the world an incredible place. She definitely has a very big heart. So, she being my hero, I am inspired to serve people in need of help. Everyone could have a hero, so they can do good deeds, and could improve the world from where it is right now.

The Qualities like honesty, kindness, trustworthiness, caring, helping, leadership, and service are also the greatest factors which inspire for the better world. These qualities seem like they are different, but they are not. Their mission would make you the better person in the world you live, work and enjoy. Among these, I am most inspired with those who serve your own country.  All people in the military are my inspiration. Can you imagine leaving your family for several months, not knowing if you are going to get hurt or not, in order to protect our nation? They are terrific!!! I always start to bawl when I see an injured soldier on TV; it aches my heart realizing that they are injured to protect all of us. These soldiers’ service always encourages me to spend my time in serving the community I live. These brave hearts are risking their lives for us, the least we could do is give support and try to serve your own mother Nation.

Education is another inspiring factor for the better world. When it comes to education, the person coming to my mind is Malala.  Malala is one of my biggest motivators; her impact on the Earth is truly amazing. Malala is a girl who fights for women’s rights for education; people in her town disagreed with her and said that girls are meant to be at home taking care of families, and not to go to school to get education. A group of men got very mad at her ambition and they shot her in the head in October 2013. Doctors said that there was no hope for her survival. But she survived and she works harder than before continuing her mission towards women education. I am wondering how she didn’t stop her from working towards what she believed on, inspite of her severe injury. Malala inspires me to remember that I should never let anything to get in the way of my dreams.

Technology is another amazing and awesome inspiring factor for a better world.  It is defined as the use of scientific knowledge for practical purposes.  Technology has made many things easier in our lives, because nowadays we can do many things that before we could not. Technology helps us to cure diseases and helps us to further our knowledge on ways of learning and viewing the world. It is a tool to make our lives easier and efficient. It helps us to learn new things, experience the world in different perspective. If we all know the best way of using the technology, a better world can be built.

Where will the roots of inspiration grow from? The seeds would be planted at the earliest life of everyone. As Mahatma Gandhi says,

“See no evil”

“Hear no evil”

“Speak no evil.”

The three monkeys depicted as Mizaru, covering his eyes, who sees no evil, Kikazaru, covering his ears who hears no evil and Iwazaru, covering his mouth, who speaks no evil. Also, there is a fourth monkey called Shizaru, depicting “do no Evil” by crossing his arms. If everyone follows these slogans, we can make a difference, and make the world a better place to be.

In conclusion, inspiration is what makes our world go around. People who inspire us have been inspired by someone else to do their good deed and the chain keeps going on and on. I am so glad that we have these motivators, or else the world would not be as it is now. Our Earth is not perfect, but with the inspiration we can be motivated to stop the world hunger, and create peace between countries. I thank all the inspirers who have made our world the best it can possibly be.


Evan Kurtz, gr. 4, The Williams School, Norfolk VA

What Inspires Me

Many things inspire me, anything from music to survival stories. Music is a powerful force. I love stories about promises fulfilled or how people overcome obstacles.

One of the things that inspire me is music. I feel like if you can connect with a song, then its true music. I used to write songs all the time. They weren’t that good, but they helped get my emotions out. I also love stories. I read a lot of fictional books, but some of my favorite stories are about incredible survival. One of my personal favorites is when a tsunami hit Japan and one boy survived by climbing the cherry blossom tree in his backyard and climbing over to the roof of a concrete tornado shelter. These things inspire me to get up and do what I love.

Many people inspire me, but one in particular I call to mind during hardships. His name is Ray Charles. While researching Ray Charles for a wax museum project at school, I learned about the tragedies and hardships of his life. This man lost his younger brother at age five and started to lose his sight at the age of six. A year later he was sent away from his family to a school for blind people to learn. At the age of twelve his mother died. After his mother died, he lost one of his eyes to an infection. After the removal of his eye he could only see black.

This man inspires me because though everything, he got up every morning and if he can do it, I can too. Ray Charles followed Dalai Lama’s advice. He did something that made him sing, literally! He followed his dreams to have a musical career. He showed the world that a man who is not only black, but blind could be successful. Ray Charles inspires me to follow my dreams no matter the obstacle.

I might have large dreams, but right now I want to help my community. I’m already helping my mom to make food for the homeless and donating clothes. I want to do more though. I want to put myself out there and show my beliefs. One of my beliefs is that there should be annual road and trail clean-ups and that recycle bins and recyclable items should be more common.

In conclusion, while I can’t do everything, these people and things inspire me to try.