Hilldale Elementary School 5th-Grader Wins Colonial Day Literature Contest

02.15.2018 1:24 PM

Maylyn Cifuentes, a fifth-grader at Putnam City’s Hilldale Elementary School, has been named winner of the 2018 Colonial Day at the Capitol Literature Contest sponsored by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.

Maylyn, 10, was recognized and read her award-winning essay, “What It Means To Be An American,” during Colonial Day at the Capitol on Feb. 9 in the House of Representatives Chamber at the Oklahoma State Capitol. Nearly 350 students participated in the contest.

Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, portrayed by historical interpreters from Colonial Williamsburg and Mount Vernon, presented Maylyn with a plaque and a $100 prize during Colonial Day opening ceremonies before a crowd of more than 500 people.

Maylyn is the daughter of Blanca Lopez and Erik Cifuentes of Oklahoma City. She is an outstanding student who is active in Hilldale’s Safety Patrol and video production program. A member of the PEAK program for gifted students, she also participates in Battle of the Books, a district reading competition.

“I have had the privilege of being involved in Maylyn's life since she was in kindergarten and have loved watching her grow into the young lady she is today,” says Andrea Selfridge, Maylyn’s fifth-grade teacher. “She is kind, compassionate, curious, intelligent, and a delight to have in class. Her classmates look to her for guidance and support. She wrote a beautiful, heartfelt essay on what it means to be an American, and we are proud of our Hilldale Tiger!”

Also recognized at the Colonial Day opening ceremony were contest finalists, who received certificates of merit. One of the finalists mentioned was Tate Vaught of Northridge Elementary.

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What It Means To Be An American
By Maylyn Cifuentes, Hilldale Elementary School

Sometimes we see people being judged by what they believe in. Sometimes we see homeless people without a job or people being discriminated against by what they look like. We see this most likely every day. To me, being an American means we shouldn’t judge other people because we aren’t perfect either. I am proud I can go to church with my family, that I can be accepted as a Hispanic here, and that my mom can get a job to support my family.

Religion is part of our culture and I’m glad we can practice our own religion. When my mom was growing up in Guatemala, she didn’t really have a religion. But since she came to America, we now go to church. They believe in working together and helping each other. I love my church.

I think jobs are important to many people because without them we have no money to support ourselves or our family. In America, there are many jobs to choose from and with hard work you can get that job. My mom came here to have a better lifestyle. My mom chose to clean hotels. My dad works hard, too. He works two jobs to make enough money for us. Even though he has two jobs, he still likes to do things with me.

Some people used to think someone had to have a certain type of skin color to be an American. But what I think an American should be is a hardworking person who earns things. They should be the best they can be and help others. People shouldn’t worry about their skin color because it doesn’t matter. Being yourself is the best way to be unique. I am Hispanic and proud to have a different skin color than others.

These are the qualities I think an American should have. They should not try to get rid of their ways and culture but embrace them. People shouldn’t think you don’t have to work hard to get a job. They shouldn’t hate themselves and wish to be something they are not. This is what I think it means to be an American.