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Hartford, CT -- June 5, 2002 -- The Connecticut Office of Tourism and the Office of the Secretary of the State recognized twenty-five fourth graders for their writing skills in this year's 8th Annual State Essay Contest. The contest, co-sponsored by the two agencies, challenged fourth grade students from elementary schools statewide to explore and report on unique places to visit in Connecticut. The awards ceremony was held this afternoon in the Old Judiciary Room at the State Capitol.

First Lady Patricia L. Rowland, Honorary Chair of the Connecticut Tourism Council; Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz; and Ed Dombroskas, executive director of the Connecticut Office of Tourism recognized the winners. Guest author Deb Adamson signed copies of her latest book Stormy, the Baby Dolphin. Students statewide submitted essays on the topic: Describe a unique place in Connecticut, and why you would recommend this place to someone visiting the state.

Mrs. Rowland congratulated the winners and said, " Every year Connecticut's fourth graders discover, and rediscover the wonder of the many places and tourist attractions across our state. This is an inspiring program for us as well as the students and we are proud to participate in this way to educate and instill pride in our state. This essay contest is an excellent opportunity for students to learn outside the classroom context -- through first-hand knowledge. Their independent discoveries of Connecticut's tourism assets and their self-expression in the essays are valuable skills, and I'm so pleased to share their experiences."

Winning essays in five divisions explored a wide range of personal discoveries, from those of historical and cultural heritage to observations on nature and state parks in Connecticut. Maria Catenacci, a first place winner and student at All Saints Catholic School in Westport described her hometown's most unique asset - the Saugatuck River -- and why it makes her feel as if she's a part of its history. She described the riverscape's changing seasons and recalled some of the historic events that took place on its shores.

Ryan Polo, a first place winner from Veterans Park School, explained that on a recent visit to the Yale Art Gallery in New Haven he learned a lot about art and encouraged his audience to visit: "I think you should go to the Yale Art Gallery. It is great. You might be like me and see an old piece in a very new way."

"The students communicate such pride in their state through the topics they chose and the words they use in these essays; we are delighted to be a co-sponsor of this annual program that reinforces creative writing skills while inspiring Connecticut's fourth grade students to become active citizens and learn about our state's unique qualities." said Susan Bysiewicz.

Winners received award certificates and "Full of Surprises" bags that included an array of admission tickets and souvenirs from state attractions. In addition, each student received copies of guest author Deb Adamson's book Stormy, the Baby Dolphin, which she signed for each student at the end of the ceremony. Essays of the top five winners will be posted on the Office of Tourism's website, www.ctbound.org in the 4-kids section, as well as on the ConneCTkids website, www.kids.state.ct.us.

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Editor's Note:

  • A complete list of winners, their schools and towns is attached to the release.
  • Copies of the essays are available upon request.
  • Photographs of each of the 25 finalists will be available a few days following the event.


Old Fashioned Fun

  1. Get away from the hustle and bustle of your daily routine with a visit to Allegra Farm & Horse-Drawn Carriage & Sleigh Museum, Rte. 82, East Haddam. Take a ride on an old fashioned horse-drawn carriage pulled by magnificent horses. You'll enjoy their historic and educational programs.
  2. Venture over to East Hampton to the Comstock Covered Bridge on Rte. 16. You can walk across it and have a picnic lunch on the banks of the scenic Salmon River.
  3. Drive Rte. 80 West towards Stony Creek and take a boat ride through the Thimble Islands. Enjoy a personal narration of the islands' rich history, dating back to 1614.
  4. Make a reservation at a comfortable luxurious inn or B&B in Mad...

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