Upper Elementary School Winning Essays 2017

1st Place: Apoorva Saurav, gr. 4, Twin Hickory E.S., Henrico VA

Immigrants Wanted! by Apoorva Saurav, An Immigrant

     “Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants… “, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States, once said. People from other cultures and countries should all be respected, including immigrants. They should not be ridiculed because they believe in a different religion. They should not be shamed because of their skin shade. Immigrants have made many contributions to the United States, and there are also many other reasons to respect them; and because of that, the U.S. needs to find ways to honor this unique set of humanity.

     Immigrants have made numerous vigorous contributions to the United States’ society as a whole. Immigrants bring in a younger population. According to the science of population pyramids, more youth means a future population boom. Immigrants expand the U.S. workforce. In 1996, just over 10% of immigrants represented the American workforce. In 2012, that number grew to 14%. Many immigrants are credited with founding businesses. One of the co-founders of Google was an immigrant. Those businesses create jobs for U.S. citizens. 60% of Google workers are Americans. Immigrants are more likely to create their own jobs, such as inventor or artist. 7.5% of immigrants employ them self, while only 6.6% of the native-born population do it. Immigrants create futuristic companies. At least one immigrant has contributed to Google, Intel, Sun Microsystems, eBay, and Yahoo majorly. Due to these contributions, the U.S. has experienced many economic benefits. Immigrants also make up a large portion of scientists, engineers, etc. 33% of immigrants are engineers. 27% of immigrants are mathematicians, statisticians, or computer scientists. 24% of immigrants are physical scientists. In general, immigrants are advancing the U.S. toward the future.       

     There are many reasons immigrants should be respected not counting their contributions. Many immigrants are known for their work ethic. Immigrants also help diversify the United States population. On a large scale, that helps us learn more about the world due to different cultures, country histories, and beliefs. On a small scale, however, we have different styles of restaurants to eat at. Several immigrants come from places of war, countries that have a corrupt government, or 3rd world countries. If you want to judge them because other people do it, keep in mind that most immigrants are judged because of their skin color or religion. The Constitution clearly states in Amendment Ⅰ, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Anyone judging immigrants because of their beliefs is going directly against the principles of Founding Father and 4th President of the United States, James Madison. Due to this collection of reasons, it’s plain to see that immigrants should be beloved.        

     Since there are many reasons to respect them, why not respect them? If we are going to respect them, we must know how. Fortunately, there are dozens of ways to celebrate immigrants, and that is no exaggeration. Here are a couple simple ways to honor immigrants: You can thank officials who do support immigration and encourage them to do more. You can share your opinions on Twitter, where people around the world can see them. You can write another essay like this one, print it out, and share it with the world. You can support local organizations helping immigrants. You can host a parade of pro-immigration signs and flags to spread the word. You can donate to the Immigrant Welcome Center. You can participate in national events such as ‘A Day Without Immigrants’. You can host an ‘International Day’ or ‘Immigration Day’ in your school or community.

     And finally, you can spread the word about immigrant game changers. Game-changers like Elon Musk, founder, CEO, and CTO of SpaceX and co-founder and CEO of Tesla Inc. Elon Musk was born in South Africa, moved to Canada, and finally to the U.S., making him an immigrant. Or game-changers like Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google, who moved from the Soviet Union when he was six, making him an immigrant. Or Sundar Pichai, the current CEO of Google, who moved from India, making him an immigrant. Or the current CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, who also moved from India, making him an immigrant. Spreading the word about these immigrants who are changing the world make people who detest immigrants feel as if they had a paradigm shift. Former mayor and NFL player Alan Autry once said, “If we don’t have a policy that allows immigrants to come across with their dignity and their respect as well as their work ethic, we’re gonna pay an awful price. We already are.” Recognizing immigrants and helping them in their conflict with the government to bring family and friends to America helps them feel like someone who matters, not a person who people feel uneasy when close to because of the notion that immigrants are dangerous.

     According to the Migration Policy Institute, immigrants only make up 13.5% of the U.S. population. Only 13.5% and they’ve drastically changed the U.S. In the words of the 35th President of the U.S. John F. Kennedy, “Everywhere immigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life.” Thanks to immigrants, what is commonly known as the ‘greatest country on Earth’, is beating its own records and is only getting better and better. Due to the fact that immigrants have made countless contributions to the United States of America, and there are many reasons to respect them, we must respect them in many ways. Will you? 


2nd (tie): Zora Gray, gr. 5, Homeschooled, Ashland VA

The Key To Being Open-minded

            I remember being in a store and seeing a family. There were at least six members of the family, and they seemed to range from age four to adult. They were shopping just like everyone else. Frowning, a white man walked over to them, and I heard the words ‘deserve’, ‘different’, and ‘ruin’. Why did it seem like he was being rude to them? Why were they “different” in his mind? One reason: The girls and women were wearing hijabs. That man seemed to be putting them in stereotypical subgroups, and consequently, he was not being open-minded. My goal is to help us all become more open minded and less scared of others who are unfamiliar.

            Being open-minded means not judging people and being open to different beliefs. Though it sounds extremely simple, it is not. I thought I was open-minded, but then I had a conversation with my cousin who has different political opinions than me. Instead of being confused or willing to hear more, I found myself being angry and frustrated with her. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who think they are open-minded but aren’t. Some parents will tell their kids to be open-minded: I know mine do. Teachers teach this too. Mine did. Maybe your parent or teacher praises you when your friend has different opinions than you and you don’t argue. Then as you get older, your opinions get stronger. Sadly, that’s when most people stop respecting even their friends with different beliefs and opinions.

            If you aren’t open-minded you could destroy a friendship or potential friendship. Being open-minded includes knowing that you could be wrong and that others may have legitimate reasons to have opinions that differ from your own. Being open-minded is not just being free from racism or sexism, it’s being okay with people who think differently than yourself. I think one of the keys to having an open-mind is respect. We must respect and listen to be able to learn.

            Senora Roy said, “Being open-minded mean knowing you can go wrong, sometime, somewhere.” Though we may not realize this, many people we look up to, like popstars and authors, are not open-minded. I think if they were more open-minded, people who look up to them would make more diverse friends. If we all wrote letters to our role-models asking them to be more open-minded, America itself would grow more open-minded. Even if your role-model lives in another country you should still write to them because other Americans may look up to them as well. For example, Emma Watson is one of my role-models. She lives in England, and I’ve written to her about being open-minded. Another example of someone I highly admire is Jacqueline Wilson, a British author, and I’ve written to her too! I also think we should make a hashtag; #OpenMindedIdols. I’ve put it on my instagram and my mom’s facebook. You never know, it could go viral! With the letters and hashtag, I hope that we will help America grow more open-minded.

            In the end, we are all human, but we are not all the same. If we were all the same, America would be very boring! We have different opinions, different beliefs, different clothes, and different backgrounds, and all those differences makes us who we are. Imagine life if everyone was the same. I imagine a person who says they like everything but has no hobbies or favorites. They would always wear a white T-shirt and jeans. They would just be one of the crowd. Then I take away all of the interesting, amazing, unique people in America, and multiply the boring person by one million. Noone would be special and adjectives would just be a waste of space. American actress Meryl Streep said, “The formula of happiness and success is just, actually being yourself, in the most vivid way you can.”   Your uniqueness is beautiful, and it makes you who you are.

            We need to be open-minded, and not just with certain groups of people but with all people. I truly believe that if more people were open minded, we would be less scared of others with different skin colors, beliefs, opinions, and clothes. America would be less racist, and less sexist, and we would truly be a melting pot of many genuinely different people, many different beliefs, and many different stories!

2nd Place (tie): Emma Schlussler, gr. 4, St. Catherine’s School, Richmond VA

     When I think about immigration, I think of new beginnings. So many new people with new hope for a fresh start coming into our beloved United States. They have hope for a new life away from their troubled countries.

     The U.S is built up of many people from many different races, countries, religions, and heritages. We are all different in the U.S., but we all say the pledge for the same reason. We might say in Spanish:

     Juro fildelidad a la bandera de los Estados Unidos de America,

     y a la republica que representa,

     Una nacion baja Dios,


     con libertad,

     y justicia para todos.

Or in English say:

     I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America,

     and to the republic for which it stands,

     one nation under God,


     with liberty and justice for all.

     Like I said, we are from different places and races, but we all pledge to be loyal to the United States, for the U.S. is our country.                                                    

     You can make a change by just being brave. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made a change by just saying what he thought. He knew what was right: equal rights. We all know what is right, we just need to share it. “I have a dream, that every nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these trues to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” That is true. All men and woman and children are created equal. Why don’t we realize that? I have a solution: just think, everyone has a dream, everyone has hope, and everyone has a vision to what life should be, but how do we share our ideas? Tell one person your idea and ask that person to tell someone and then that person who was told your idea tells another person and so on and so on. If people hear your ideas, they think of their own ideas. When the world will someday be a better place, you can think back to when the small thought became real.

     Another person who has made a change is Rosa Parks. She refused to give up her seat on a bus and went to jail for it. “All I was trying to do was get home from work.” That is all she was trying to do. Is there anything wrong with that? That’s when people realized that is not the way to treat a person.

     Have you ever heard of the Melting Pot? Well, you live there! The United States is the Melting Pot! Close your eyes and think about this: Many different people melting together into one amazing place. That is so cool! How do so many people from so many different places live together? Easy. We respect each other. Respect is so powerful. If you respect someone they respect you. If you respect someone, you will be making a change.          

Honorable Mentions:

Caden Grayson, gr. 4, Grace and Hope Academy, Petersburg VA

Theme: Many People…One Nation

     I’m proud to be an American but sometimes I’m disappointed that some Americans don’t treat other Americans as they should. Americans need to look around at all the wonderful examples of how diversity makes America better and stronger.

     Americans need to know and value our history. America existed long before the settlers came and thought they discovered it. The Native Americans were living peacefully in America. They also loved nature and took pride in their culture. Those people were kind hearted and helpful. They understood the importance of being a good neighbor and cooperating with one another. All Americans can learn about being respectful by studying how the Native Americans initially interacted with the settlers and with nature.

            Parents need to teach their children about respect. People should respect their selves. If you respect yourself, you wouldn’t disrespect others. My parents have always taught me that respect goes a long way. They taught me this by showing me how to treat others the same way that I want to be treated even if they are different. Americans may look different, act different, worship different, speak different, and dress different. And I think that’s wonderful! These things are not important because we all love and hurt the same. People are hurting in America for senseless reasons. We have to love one another and respect one another and then we can grow as Americans.

     Religion is important to most Americans. Most religions teach love and peace. Religious leaders should encourage their members to reach out to others and spread their love to those who worship differently. My family practices Christianity and attend a traditional Baptist church. We believe in our God but we have friends and family that worship differently. My godmother practices Judaism and we love each other very much. I enjoy visiting her synagogue because the people there are friendly and treat me like I am a member there. I remember one special visit when they had the some of the Lost Boys from Africa there. The synagogue had sponsored some of them and invited them to share their story. Their story was very sad but it had a happy ending thanks to strangers in America who showed love.

            Schools across America should also teach the importance of celebrating differences. Students are sometimes bullied because they are different. Schools should be a safe place for all students. Students should be able to go to schools and concentrate on learning. My school is a private school but last year I went to a public school for the first time. It was a good experience because I learned a lot from my new friends. Some of my friends spoke Spanish at home but English at school. They would teach me new Spanish words which was really cool. They also shared their important holidays and favorite foods that I had never heard of. Now, I’m learning Spanish in my private school. I also had friends who had parents who were different races. Those friends spoke English but they had different traditions. It was also cool learning from them the different things that they did at home.

            My new school is different too. This school teaches us a lot but in different ways. We all learn differently and we celebrate our differences. My principal wants us to enjoy learning and have fun learning! We work in communities and teams to help each other. We also have to know how to get along with one another. She doesn’t tolerate making fun of others or bullies.  

            Visiting different places and seeing different people helps you learn about others too. My family loves history and visiting new places and trying different things. There are so many great places to visit in Virginia and Washington, D.C. We go skiing each year in Massanutten. I can’t ski well but it is fun learning how to ski. I get better at skiing each year. This year, we decided to visit the James Madison home in Montpelier during our ski trip. This place was awesome!

     The tour guide was also a high school history teacher and knew a lot about James Madison. The Montpelier home was huge and decorated nicely. There were lots of pictures in every room. The dining room had pictures of important French people, women, Thomas Jefferson, and a black man. This shows that he knew diversity was important.

     The picture of the black man was a slave named Paul Jennings. Mr. Jennings was his valet and friend. He trusted Mr. Jennings and he was with James Madison when he died. Mr. Jennings wrote a book about his life. I thought it was ironic that James Madison owned over 100 slaves but he was the Father of the Constitution.

     The home also had religious pictures and pictures that looked like mythical creatures in the living room. This shows that James Madison accepted different beliefs. There were slave homes on the property. Slaves played a great role in our history because of their many contributions building America.  

     Washington, D.C. is one of my favorite places to visit. You get to see so many different people from all over the world! You can also visit the museums to learn about different cultures and the contributions made from various ethnicities and nationalities.

     Americans need to understand that we are all important and must unite to make our country better.

     America is a great country but it can be even better! Each American has to teach and practice love, respect, peace, and acceptance. We have to think of each other and stop being selfish. America is big enough for everyone to fit in and live in peace.

     I’m going to continue to show love and acceptance to others because that’s what I have been taught and it’s the right thing to do! I’m going to remember to be friends to those who are different and accept them. You can learn a lot from others. Don’t surround yourself with those who look like you, act like you, dress like you, and think like you. If you do, it would be like living in a bubble. You should meet new people, learn new things and celebrate new friendships. America will become much better when we understand that we are really alike more than different.

Sowmya Narra, gr. 5, Short Pump E.S., Henrico VA

Mix and Match

     Have you ever heard of the Melting Pot, a country made up of many different cultures? This is the one and only America, the nation of diverse heritages. The engrossing background of America is what sets it apart from other countries. We can instill understanding and respect for others by developing an ethnics club, participating in our school’s yearly International Night, and even looking up to a courageous leader.

     To begin with, there are a plethora of actions you can execute to help build a community of diverse people such as developing an ethnics club or even starting a religious mobile club on a device. An effortless way to accomplish the first step in creating an ethnics club is to request a few chums to participate in your club and ask them to invite others that might be interested. Also, be sure to put up posters and advertise for your club. In the blink of an eye, you will have an abundant number of people ready to join your club. Soon, your smile will be a mile wide! All you need now is a sponsor. You could try contacting local libraries or even nearby parks willing to let you host your club. In just a few easy steps, you have a diverse ethnics club where individuals can share about heritages. For example, you can bring in a Chinese Renminbi [ren-min-bee] a Chinese coin, a Jamaican ackee, a Jamaican fruit, or even an Indian sari, traditional Indian clothing for women. Alternatively, mobile clubs are even more basic. Just send a few messages to friends and ask them forward them. Then, create a chat group for all the members where they can introduce themselves and find similarities and differences between each other. This is something I think a few of my pals would enjoy. I’m sure, they’d be delighted and pass the message around. Within a few days, we could have many others interested. I would create the chat group and encourage others to post pictures of unique artifacts and videos of religious rituals or festivals from their culture. The mobile chat group would be a colossal success! Start a mobile or in person club today to see how much you can help your society!

     Furthermore, have you ever had a pen pal? Maybe you’ve had a pen pal once, maybe twice? This time take it to a whole new level! All you have to do is persuade your classroom teacher to permit everyone in your class to select a partner of a different heritage as their pen pal. They will get to know about each other’s cultures and what they may have in common. This will feel as exciting as opening birthday presents! Who knows, you might even be able to bribe your teacher into including the pen pal writing as a part of your writing unit for some bonus points. Another thing you and your family might be able to do is participate in your school’s International Night. This is where families of all different cultures partake in a festive night where you can sample treats, view artifacts and learn dances originating from various countries. In no time at all, you will be wishing to stay here for an endless period of time. When I participated in my school’s International Night, I had a blast! Believe it or not, I performed a classical dance native to my Indian culture and even helped set up a booth for others to learn more about my Indian traditions. You can do this too! We, together in our communities and schools, can engage in countless activities to build a stronger foundation for our nation.

     For the most part, do you recognize these people? Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, Harriet Tubman, Al Jolson (Asa Yoelson)? What do they all have in common? Of course, they were all courageous leaders that contributed to the forming of America in their own ways! Take Al Jolson for example! Al Jolson, born Asa Yoelson was a Russian immigrant. He was an American singer, film actor, and comedian. At the peak of his career, he was dubbed “The World’s Greatest Entertainer”. Numerous well-known singers were influenced by his music. The son of immigrants from India (my culture), Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy was confirmed on December 15, 2014, as the 19th United States Surgeon General. As “America’s Doctor,” Dr. Murthy is responsible for communicating the best available scientific information to the public regarding ways to improve personal and public health. He also oversees the operations of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, comprised of approximately 6,700 uniformed health officers who serve in nearly 800 locations around the world to promote, protect, and advance the health and safety of our nation and our world. Dr. Murthy has devoted himself to improving public health service, clinical care, research, and education. Harriet Tubman is another popular leader. Harriet Tubman, born Araminta Ross was an American abolitionist, humanitarian, armed scout, and spy for the United States Army during the American Civil War. She was born into slavery in Dorchester County, Maryland but her roots were African. Harriet Tubman rescued approximately seventy enslaved families and friends, using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. I read biographies of many leaders that influenced and contributed to this nation and absorbed many captivating facts about these role models lives and their hardships. The information that you will discover about these leaders will be as inspiring as the famous New York City’s Lady Liberty. So many leaders have inspired and contributed to this nation. Without them, there would be no America.

     In conclusion, we can show understanding and respect for others by creating a cultural club, partaking in your school’s annual International Night, and even admiring a motivating role model. From my perspective, our nation, America is far more diverse than any other country!

 Tanish Singh, gr. 4, Twin Hickory E.S., Henrico VA

Many People, One Nation☮

            Did you know that we have 196 countries in our world and we should live in peace? We can help solve this problem and build trust by, building a community of people from diverse backgrounds, build respect and understanding among all the people who live in our nation, and contributions from your country and mine.

            To build a community of people from diverse backgrounds, we have to support and give them a hand. We can all learn about other people’s cultures and celebrate them. These people in our community made a difference. The preponderance of people in my community is Indians. We celebrate a holiday called Diwali. We celebrate this holiday with our mood exuberant and lively with firecrackers going Boom! Boom! Some Americans on that day purchase an Indian dress and celebrate it with us. Everybody has different looks but the same feeling inside the heart so treat your friends, elders who we should respect, and anybody in the galaxy… The same. Hang out with people from different countries and learn different cultures to show your respect, my peace, and our love.

            Building respect and understanding among all who live in our country will establish our country. Some may care, but the fact that poor people are not eating, and sleeping on a footpath and that should make us feel bad for them. Giving them respect is not the only right thing to do, also help out. They yearn for common things everyday on a daily basis. Almost 50 million people in the U.S. are poor. Accommodate everybody in your heart. Just give everybody a chance.

            Now lastly, it is time to move on to the people who robustly sacrificed their life to help us and the world.  First, we’ll start with my favorite, Mahatma Gandhi. He challenged British to a war without weapons, but with inspirational speeches. He is from my country, India. Not only that, he gave India independence and freedom with non-violence. Next, let’s move on to the legendary South African hero, Nelson Mandela. He needed equal rights and was sent to jail for 27 years and he was freed in 1990 bringing South Africa into peace when it used to be a racially divided country. He got the Nobel Peace Prize and become president. 20.9 million People in the world are still slaves.

            It is known that “Nothing worth having comes easy.” If I have freedom, then we should all have freedom. We can do that by building a community of people from diverse backgrounds, build respect and understanding among all the people who live in our nation, and contributions from other people who supported peace.

Jacob Schenkein, gr. 4, Twin Hickory E.S., Henrico VA

     As of 2014, there are 4,200 religions. In the world we live in today, we must build respect for other backgrounds, become a better community where everyone is involved, and know contributions from people in other cultures. It would not be fair to give one person a chateau and another person a shanty, simply because of race, religion or culture.

     With so many backgrounds, we need to build respect and understanding for them. One way to do this is to see what you and your classmate from a different culture have in common. Another way is to study important figures from different cultures. We can find out what contributions people from other cultures made. As Cesar Chavez said, “Preservation of one’s own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures. It would be a horror if someone was mean to someone else because of race, religion, or culture.

     We need to build a better community where everyone takes part. We can be friendly, and say hello to people. We could teach about our religion. We could hold community international nights. One thing in my school is that 30+ languages are spoken by the students. It would not be fair if one person did a burden of hard work, and got paid less because of skin color.

     There are many contributions from different cultures and people in them. Abraham Lincoln outlawed slavery. Jackie Robinson helped make it legal for African-Americans to be on Major League Baseball teams. James Hoban, an Irish immigrant, designed the White House. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech in front of 250,000 people. It is important to know contributions from people from other cultures. If you don’t, you may not build as much respect for people in different cultures, so you may do something bad to someone because of their race. And then- Wee-oo–Wee-oo! You would go to jail.

     “No culture can survive if it attempts to be exclusive.” That being said, a culture can survive if it builds respect for other cultures, makes a better community where everyone is involved, and know contributions from people in other cultures. Cultures disliking other cultures and doing very bad things to them can be as scary as the scariest thing ever.


Abhinav Tadinada, gr. 4, Colonial Trail E.S., Henrico VA

Great Nation

            America is a one of a kind country that welcomes people from all around the world to come and make their dreams a reality. This not only benefits the individual, but it also helps the heart of the country itself. This is how this great nation called the United States of America was built.

            America started as a group of small colonies formed by settlers from different parts of the world and slowly evolved into one of the most powerful nations in the world. During this evolution, America stood strong through hard and harsh times and the greatest strength of America lied in its diversity. It is upon all of us from different cultures and backgrounds to come forward and contribute to the oneness of this country. We can create this unity by teaching respect for different cultures, participating in International Nights, and learning about all the cultures that helped build America.

            In order to achieve this unity, every individual has to respect one another and value the opinions and ideas of all the people. The idea of understanding and respect starts from your home. If every child grows up being taught the importance of good moral values it will reflect in his behavior to all his neighbors. When you get to know your neighbors you should see what they do on their holidays and why they do it. Then you should tell them more about your cultures and holidays. My family and I moved into a new neighborhood last summer and we all had a neighborhood cookout where each one of us brought a food from our culture. I was surprised and happy that people from so many different cultures lived in our neighborhood.

            Another thing you could do to learn about people’s cultures is to participate in an International Night or a Heritage Night at your school or community center. At International Night people will set up posters and tri-folds on their cultures and traditions. You can also set up a poster. You should learn about other people’s heritage and teach people about yours too. You can even bring in some of your country’s food for people to try. When I participated in an International Night at my school I set up a display that shows the various customs and traditions we follow. I also got to taste Mooncakes that my Chinese friend made and learned that Chinese Mooncakes were first used to overthrow Mongolian rulers of China in the Yuan dynasty.

            America, known as the land of immigrants, was not built by one country or two, but by the whole world. People from almost every part of the world came to America and everyone helped build it. No one was building the whole country by themselves, but everyone made a big difference. It is like the fingers of your hand. None of them look alike but if one finger stops working your hand does not have the same strength.

            Contributions from many countries helped build the United States. From my country, India, many people have contributed in technology like Sundar Pichai who is the CEO of Google and Satya Nadella who is the CEO of Microsoft. Many people from Mexico are working as builders and without them we would not have as many homes as we do now. Many Germans that migrated were craftsmen and engineers. They introduced new designs for furniture and better designs for machines.

            As you can see we can build understanding and respect for different cultures by learning about people’s heritage, celebrating International Night and recognizing contributions from different cultures that helped America. Here is a befitting poem from my Taekwondo class that says :

     “When one develops virtue in their spirit, then there will be Honor in their character.

     When one has honor in their character , then there will be respect in their home.

     When there is respect in the home, there will be harmony in the nation.

     When there is harmony in the nation, there will be peace throughout the world.”