Girls are thankful for this win

Students from Costa Mesa and Lynwood wowed judges with essays about the reasons for which they were thankful this Thanksgiving.

TeWinkle Middle School student Isabelle Morales and Lindbergh Elementary School sixth-grader Kimberly Wenceslao, 11, tied for first place — winning half of the $1,000 grand prize — in the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina's first Thanksgiving video and essay contest.

"These two really stuck out," said Andrew Theodorou, Newport Dunes executive vice president and general manager. "Very cute, very just, you know in general, all about family. They were to us just the favorites."

The contest asked the question, "What are you thankful for?" and more than 40 students entered by writing an essay or creating a one-minute video. It was difficult to make a decision, but Kimberly and Isabelle's essays caught the judges' eyes, Theodorou said.

"It was nice," Kimberly said about winning. "I couldn't believe it at first because so many people entered that I didn't think I had a chance. I really felt really happy."

The two girls were treated to lunch Wednesday at Newport Dunes' Back Bay Bistro and were presented with their U.S. Savings Bonds that will mature to $500 each by the time they graduate from high school.

It was the first time at the Newport Beach resort for both girls.

"It was really pretty. I loved it," Isabelle said, adding that she ate some delicious salmon for lunch. "I'm just very glad I got the opportunity to do that, and it was very fun going to lunch."

Kimberly said she wants to use her money to help pay for textbooks while she studies to become a pediatrician at UCLA, and Isabelle said she feels good knowing she has a head start on saving up for college.

It was Kimberly's teacher that told her class about the essay and gave the interested students time to write, and type up, their essays.

Isabelle heard about the contest through the Boys & Girls Club. She said it took her all day to write.

"I kept changing the words — I wanted to make them good," said Isabelle, who likes math more than writing.

For both girls, sitting down and concentrating on what they are thankful for helped them realize just how grateful they are for their friends and family.

"It really has affected me," Kimberly said.

"I think I put more thought in the things my family and friends do for me," Isabelle said.

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

The Winning Essays

There is so much to be thankful for during this Thanksgiving break, specifically there are three main things that I want to share with you. To me the three most important things in life are my family, friends, and my education.

Without my friends I wouldn't have the love and support to continue through the day. Friends come and go all the time, but the people that surround me have always managed to stick around through tough times. My friends are people I can tell anything and everything to, people I can count on to cheer me up when I'm feeling down. In a way, I consider them to be a part of my family because we have known each other for so long.

To me, the word family is a special bond that can never be broken. There are times when we don't always get along, but in the end these problems end up making our bond that much stronger. This is why I consider my family to be a blessing.

As for my education, I am so thankful because I would struggle through life. I see it as a way to make a change for my future. My mom always tells me that in order to do well and be successful, is to have a good education. That's why I think education is so important and that's what I strive for.

This Thanksgiving I am going to be extra thankful and thanks to this essay I know realized the true importance of life.

— Isabelle Morales


'Tis the season to be thankful, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la. There are just so many things that God has given us that we take for granted like our family, food, shelter, and other things. We don't really care much about them, until they're gone. That's why this season, I really want to give thanks for everything I have.

My family is the main thing I am thankful for. I love them with all my heart. My mom is always there for me, giving me advice and hugging me when I am in need of love. Keiry, well, she's the best little sister. Even though she's only 4 years old, she can tell how I feel and she can cheer me up in a second. My dad has taught me the values of life. He is a role model because even though he came from Mexico at age 17 without knowing any English, he got a job and still works hard to make his "American Dream" come true. There are so many people without anybody to turn to when they have problems because they don't have a family. I am an exception. I don't know what I'd do without my family.

Have you ever seen those homeless people out on the streets? They go throughout the day, wondering when will they eat and where will they sleep. Seeing this type of life makes me very grateful that I have a hot plate of food ready for me everyday and a nice, cozy house to sleep in. Even if sometimes it is not the best food I have ever tasted, it is still food. It is the same with my house. Even though my house is small, at least it isn't a cardboard box outside in the rain. That is why I am thankful for food and shelter.

Last but not least, I am so thankful about life. There are thousands of people dying everyday of whatever reason, but I'm still here, alive. My family is alive, my friends are alive, everybody I love is alive. I am also thankful I am complete. Some poor babies are born with one hand or one eye, or like the kids from Operation Smile. They have a disease called cleft lip, which means the nose is stuck together with the lip. It is so sad, if not given an operation, the kids are bullied throughout the rest of their lives. I am also grateful I don't have any sort of syndrome. My mom says that when she was pregnant, the doctors told her she should abort because I was going to be born with a syndrome. Luckily, I wasn't. I am also thankful that my mom survived cancer. I am very grateful that my whole family is alive and healthy.

Sometimes, I get mad because I don't get what I want. When I think about it though, I am the luckiest person alive. I have my family, shelter, food, life, and health. I can thank the almighty God because he has made it possible for me to have all of that. So, remember, if your parents don't want to buy you the X-box 360, don't get mad. Thank them and the Lord for what you already have.

Kimberly Wenceslao

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