Local student shares thoughts on the American Flag in essay contest


New Palestine Elementary Principal Kayleigh Fosnow, Larry Houston from the American Legion, NPE student Natalia Dickinson and CSCSHC Board President Dan Walker.

NEW PALESTINE — When New Palestine Elementary School fourth grade student Natalia Dickinson sees the American flag, it provokes many emotions about how and why the flag was created and what the flag represents. Natalia shared her thoughts on the American flag recently in the Annual American Legion Americanism and Government Essay Contest.

The Americanism Essay Contest was created to teach students the value of patriotism and what it means to be Americans. Thousands of students participate in the program each year in the contest, which is designed to help promote a lifelong respect of the American flag and the country.

Students in grades 3 to 12 who take part explore the fundamental rights and freedoms enjoyed by Americans. Each year’s contest has a different theme; one student in each category per division is awarded a prize. Natalia was recently selected as a local and then the regional winner of the American Legion’s Flag Education program.

“As our country changed, our flag changed,” Natalie wrote in the essay on what she thinks about when she sees the American flag. “Once Kentucky and Vermont became states our flag had 15 stars and 15 stripes. As more states joined the Union more stars were added, but the stripes were returned to the original number of 13 stripes.”

Natalia was recognized for her essay by officials with the Community School Corp. of Southern Hancock County school board recently. Afterward, she explained what prompted her to take part in the essay contest.

“We were actually reading one of the booklets about the American Flag, and we learned a lot about the 13 colonies and how they fought to earn the flag,” Natalia said. “That gave me the idea to do it.”

Her thought process wondered what the people in the original 13 colonies thought about the American Flag and why they decided to break away from Great Britain.

While Natalia’s essay did not win at the state level for her grade group, she was thrilled to be a local and regional winner representing NPE and Hancock County.

“I was really surprised I won because there were a lot of kids competing,” she said. “I did not expect to win.”

That included competing against many of her fellow classmates, but Natalia noted writing is one of her favorite things to do in school.

As for what Natalia would like to accomplish in the future, she’s got big dreams. Natalia would like to be a scientist — more precisely, a chemist who helps find a cure for childhood cancer.

“I want to try to make medicine for kids,” Natalia said.

New Palestine Elementary School Principal Kayleigh Fosnow said if any student she knows can do it, it’s Natalia who cares about her classmates and is kind to everyone.

“I just have to brag on her,” Fosnow said. “She’s always so polite and kind to her classmates. She’s a helper and a giver, so what more would we want to represent NPE?”

In addition to thinking about how the American flag came about, Natalia wrote in her essay that she also feels the pain and sacrifices of those who passed away in the Revolutionary War to help form the United States. She wrote in the essay, “When I see the flag I feel sad because people died for our country and left behind their love ones.”