Local student takes third place in national writing competition

Miami fifth grader Olga Rocio Rivas has taken third place in the national Celebrate America Fifth Grade Creative Writing Contest with her piece titled “America Believes.”

Sponsored nationally by the American Immigration Council (AIC) and locally by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) South Florida Chapter, the contest encourages students to express why they are glad America is a nation of immigrants. This is the second year that South Florida’s regional winner has placed nationally, with Miami’s Charlotte Leigh taking the 2014 Grand Prize.

Rivas is a student at Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart in Miami. In recognition of her accomplishment, a flag will be flown over the U.S. Capitol in her honor, and her inspiring piece will be published in Skipping Stones magazine.

Essays entered into the national competition were reviewed by a formidable panel of renowned judges including founder of Citizen Counts Gerda Weissman-Klein, author and National Book Award finalist Edwidge Danticat, Minister of Education in South Sudan Valentino Achak Deng, and 2014 Grand Prize Winner Charlotte Leigh.

Earlier this year, Rivas finished first in the annual regional contest sponsored by AILA South Florida, which entered her piece in the national competition. Dozens of South Florida schools competed in the regional contest, which provides young students with the opportunity to express the importance of diversity, the challenges and benefits of immigration, and share their own personal immigration experience or family history in their own unique and individual voice.

Second and third place finishers in the regional contest also were from Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart. Torivia Castro took second place with her “In the Land of Tomorrow” piece, while Alexandra Dominguez placed third with her “Untitled” entry. The three students were honored during an AILA South Florida luncheon on May 20 where they each presented their winning entries.

AILA South Florida encourages local schools and teachers to include this contest as they plan their curricula for the upcoming school year.

“We congratulate Olga Rocio Rivas for her placing nationally in the Celebrate America contest with her wonderful piece on the importance of immigration to America,” said Jacob Ratzan, AILA South Florida president. “Our local competition received an incredible number of wonderful and insightful entries, and it’s a remarkable honor to once again have South Florida represented among the national winners.”

To learn more about the national Celebrate America Fifth Grade Creative Writing Contest, visit www.celebrateamericawritingcontest.org/.

Learn more about AILA South Florida at www.ailasouthflorida.org.

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