Teachers association announces essay winners

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Karen Vaughn, president of The Taylor County Retired Teachers Association, recently announced the winners of this year's "AARP Kentucky Grandparent of the Year" Essay Contest.

Bryce Richardson was selected as Campbellsville Independent Schools' winner and Elizabeth Rogers was the winner from Taylor County Schools.

Richardson's grandfather William Warren Richardson and Rogers' grandmother Diane Rogers were the subjects of the essays.

The 10-county area has also selected Rogers' essay to represent the district at the state contest.

Teachers Farrah Hord and Penny Gaskins, and principals David Petett and Brian Clifford were recognized for their support.

Vonda Smith and Wanda Jeffries served as chairpersons for the contest.

The annual contest is open to all public school fifth graders and is designed to recognize the significant contributions that older Kentuckians make toward shaping the lives and values of young people.

Richardson and Rogers attended the Feb. 15 meeting of the Taylor County Retired Teachers Association at Campbellsville Middle School and received their awards and a gift of $25 each from the local association.

Rogers will also receive a $50 savings bond from the district organization.


Elizabeth Rogers's Winning Essay


Did you know that the root system of a tree is just as large as the plant above ground? Like a tree, children need a strong support system in order to thrive. For me, my grandmother is one of my most dedicated supporters. Nene provides the nutrients I need to survive. She also teaches me to navigate through the tough times in life. And, most importantly, she keeps me grounded.

Even though plants make their own food, they cannot survive without water and sunlight. My nourishment comes in the form of Nene's sweet tea and homemade cooking. Nothing compares to that feeling of sitting down to her perfectly set table covered with a spread of my favorite foods. The best part of eating at Nene's is her willingness to allow me to help her cook. Since I was a little girl, she would pull up a chair to the counter and let me be her assistant. Before long, I will be able to make my own food.

When a root encounters a rock or other debris, it grows around the object and keeps going. I have heard stories about my grandma's struggle with polio. When she was a young girl she spent weeks in the hospital by herself. She told me that she never cried or gave up hope. You would never know Nene had polio even though she still has trouble lifting certain things. Her strength has taught me that I must face any challenge with moxie and determination. Giving up is not an option.

The roots of a plant keep it in the ground. My Nene grew up as the daughter of a respected physician. Though she grew up in a wealthy family in Texas, she has never treated others as though they were beneath her. For more than 30 years my grandma has volunteered her time to teach the three-year-old Sunday School class at our church. Anytime Nene hears of a family that needs food she rushes to their aid and cooks them a nice meal. As a high school counselor, she was always reaching out to her students. In fact, my mom was one of the students she helped! By her example, I know how important it is to be grounded and treat others with kindness and respect.

My Nene is the strongest, most loving grandmother any little girl could ask for. Like the roots of a tree, she has given support to so many different people. Her determination and sympathy for others is an inspiration for me. Because of her strength of character and love for her family, she deserves to be the AARP "Grandparent of the Year."