Fourth-graders consider what makes our country beautiful |

Fourth-graders consider what makes our country beautiful

Daily staff report
Vail, CO Colorado

AVON – What makes America Beautiful to you?

To Carlos Leon, fourth-grade student at Avon Elementary School, America is beautiful because “it is a universal language that brings nations together and helps them better understand their roots and culture. It brings out the good values for being successful. I like the generosity America offers everyone. I like the education they provide to those who need it.”

Through The Gallegos Corporation and other local organizations, local fourth-grade students were given the chance to write an essay (no more than 400 words) about what makes America beautiful to them.

“Gerald Gallegos was passionate about giving back to the communities that we live and work in,” said Dacia Belisle, of Gallegos Corporation. “He was especially committed to helping with educational causes.”

The “What Makes America Beautiful?” essay contest was recently won by Carlos Leon, of Avon Elementary School, and Liz Armas, of Gypsum Elementary School.

“The variety of responses was interesting; some students focused on the natural beauty and places of our country and then others, like Carlos, focused on the deeper meaning of the beauty of America, its people and democracy,” said Melisa Rewold-Thuon, principal of Avon Elementary School. “Our students are very thoughtful and grateful for what they have, even though in many situations it is not a lot.”

Out of the 32 total entries from eight different schools, Carlos and Liz won earning their school one granite map created by The Gallegos Corporation. The granite maps were on display at this past year’s Vail America’s Day parade.

“My students were really happy that the Gallegos Corporation selected the topic of ‘What Makes America Beautiful’ because ‘beauty’ can shine through in many different ways,” said Jason Pyle, Fourth Grade Teacher at Avon Elementary School. “These students finally had an opportunity to express what they have felt since growing up in our great nation.”

The five volunteer judges were Suzanne Gallegos, chairwomen of the board and Brandi Resa, accounts payable supervisor, both from The Gallegos Corporation; Susie Davis, executive director of the Youth Foundation; Jean McSpadden, director of education for the Vail Valley Foundation; and Annette Stemack, sustainable design consultant for Inspirit LLC.

“We cannot thank The Gallegos Corporation enough for the support they have given to our students,” said Sandra Smyser, superintendent of Eagle County Schools. “We would also like to thank the Youth Foundation, the Vail Valley Foundation and Inspirit LLC for taking the time to read and judge the students’ essays.”

The three runners up were Flor Vasquez, Avon Elementary School; Naomi Harding, Eagle County Charter Academy; and Lauren Kenyon, Carbondale Community School.

“The map will be an enduring symbol for the students of what each individual can accomplish with thoughtfulness and hard work,” Rewold-Thuon said.

The essay that Carlos wrote will be preserved and mounted next to the map at Avon Elementary School.

For more information on the essay contest, contact Belisle at or 970-926-3737.

This is the co-winning essay by Liz Armas, a fourth-grader at Gypsum Elementary School:

America is beautiful

America is beautiful for many reasons. Although it was hard, I picked the things that I think are most beautiful about this country.

To me, freedom is a thing that makes this land wonderful. Initially, in America we have freedom. Important people like the government, president, mayor, etc. let us speak and choose what we want to do. We also have the Statue of Liberty; this special statue represents liberty and freedom to all of us. Lastly, all of the people that are older than 18 are able to vote. Many years ago only men were allowed to vote. Freedom is powerful in this country.

Another thing that makes America beautiful is education. First of all, lots of people go to school. A long time ago, only white people were allowed to go to school. Furthermore, we the people get to choose what college we want to go to, to continue our education. As a result, humans decide what they want to be. Nobody is saying you have to go to college to be a teacher. Education in our country is a traditional thing. I love the fact that we have freedom in our country because I value my education.

Our country has scenery that is unbelievable. Specifically when you look at America we have some of the most beautiful sights to see. My favorite place is the Grand Canyon. I love looking at those big rocks. Next, is the Glenwood Canyon. Maybe some people don’t know about it, but since I live in Gypsum, Colorado, the canyon is very close by! Some rocks are red, light brown, and dark brown. Most of all, the beautiful Colorado River runs through it. Finally, I love the beaches in California. Warm sand is surrounding it along with many sea creatures. Living in America is the most beautiful country of them all because of the incredible scenery.

Have you ever thought about what our country would be like without soldiers? They fight for our liberty; America is a lucky country because we have people that protect us. Women and men train to fight and protect our country. Another thing, is that these people risk their lives every single day. They try hard to be leaders. They are the type of people that I look up to. Last, but not least, my PE teacher Mr. Bernhart used to protect our country. He was a rifle carrier. I am so happy that I live in a country that has protection and brave people like soldiers.

I am so proud of this country that I call home. It is a safe and beautiful place. I will always love America.

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