Ainger student’s essay ranks 33rd out of 140 000

Elearnor Keys

Eleanor Keys

ENGLEWOOD — Veterans of Foreign Wars is honoring L.A. Ainger Middle School student Eleanor Keys, who ranked first in Florida for the Patriot’s Pen essay competition, with another accolade — $500 for ranking 33rd nationally.

The writing contest asked the question, “What would I tell the founding fathers?”

Eleanor spent 30 hours researching the founding fathers.

Here’s an excerpt from the essay:

“Although America has made its own mistakes over the years, and seen and experienced its fair share of war, poverty, political divisions and acts of slavery, the fundamental principles have always survived and remained true. And as time progresses, these principles…have brought both challenges and great changes that have united a country with its people.”

The essay touched on themes of adversity, principles and perseverance.

“It’s a great honor to be awarded,” Eleanor said. “I’m putting (the money) into a savings account for college.”

The Keys family celebrated the state honors at a ceremony in Orlando.

“I think it is tremendous Eleanor won first place in the state,” said Darryl Keys, her father. “We learned (Wednesday) that as Florida’s representative, she placed 33rd nationally, which is remarkable considering she was one of 140,000 entries nationally.”

Roger Luedtke, VFW Post Commander 10476 in Rotonda, was present at the ceremony.

“It’s terrific to see a bright young lady with such an honor,” Luedtke said. “We submitted three (essays) to our district. Our post never had such a participant before. It’s an extraordinary accomplishment with 92 entries (to our post).”

Eleanor’s older sister, Katie, who attends Lemon Bay High School, sang the national anthem at the ceremony.

“(Eleanor’s) essay clearly answered the question and articulated it very well,” Luedtke said. “She nailed it. It speaks well for the school, parents and her teacher. ”


About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News,, and Tampa Tribune.
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