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South Jordan Journal

South Jordan Elementary Fourth-Grader Wins Second Place in ULCT Essay Contest

Jul 06, 2016 10:14AM ● By Sandra Osborn

South Jordan Elementary fourth-grade class at the city council meeting on May 17. From left: Zach Petersen, Ethan Jensen, Walker Woodbury, Daniel Taggart, Cecily Barlow, Caroline Foutz, Amanda Buck, Desi Ford, Madison Goins, Kaden Kelez and Logan Wilson. Back row: Mrs. Kerrie Wardell, Mayor Alvord and Mrs. Dodi Thacker. –Sandra Osborn

 By Sandra Osborn | [email protected]

Movies in the park, the Easter Egg Hunt and the Jordan Parkway trail are some of Madison Goins’ favorite things to enjoy in South Jordan. Madison, a fourth-grader at South Jordan Elementary School, wrote about them in her essay entry for the Utah League of Cities and Towns (ULCT) Essay Contest “Why I like my community.” Madison’s essay won second place at the state level, winning $75 and $750 for her school.

Councilmember Tamara Zander presented the award during a school assembly. The principal had informed Madison’s parents of the award but kept it secret from her. Madison thought her parents were there for the assembly, so she was surprised when Zander asked her to come to the podium.

 “I was so speechless,” Madison said. “Everything about it was amazing. It was great. I kept thinking, ‘How did this happen?’ A lot of stuff was taking me down, and I’d been sad lately because my parents are getting a divorce. When I heard my name, it made me glow. It was that feeling of being happy again.”

Mrs. Kerry Wardell and Mrs. Dodi Thacker, co-teachers of Madison’s class, assigned the essay with intent to submit, following an experience Mrs. Wardell had 45 years earlier at Bella Vista Elementary.

 Her own fourth-grade teacher, Ms. Timothy, had the class enter the essay contest about what they had learned at the state fair. The then-10-year-old Wardell wrote an essay that won first place, and she never forgot. She still has the picture and plaque she received. When the principal sent the invitation to participate in the ULCT contest, she thought it would be fun for the class and would be an excellent way to teach writing. She shared her experience with the students, and they all wrote what they liked about South Jordan.

“Every student wrote a great essay, but it was really rewarding for me for Madison to win second place,” Wardell said.

Wardell said Madison is a joy to have around.

“She’s a really good leader and works really hard at making the right choices,” Wardell said. “She tries to include people, and she’s mindful of people and relationships. She’s a great example.”

Madison’s gleeful personality and love for South Jordan shined through her words. In her essay, she mentioned her love for the movies in the park the city offers during the summer.

“You only have to bring a furry blanket, soft buttered popcorn and a cold, icy drink,” she wrote. “It’s an amazing to do with your family. My brothers and I love it!”

Madison also described the interesting sights along the Jordan Parkway trail.

“It’s thrilling to see the water sparkle in the sun with a shimmery glow,” she wrote.

The fourth-grade class was invited to attend the city council meeting on May 17, where the students were recognized and Madison got to read her winning essay. Afterward, they all shook hands with the mayor, city council members and city officials.

Many expressions of “Congratulations” and “Good Job” were made by delighted officials. The students were beaming.

“The students are really passionate about South Jordan,” Wardell said.

Other students wrote about Mulligans, the Recreation Center, the Gale Center, South Jordan police officers and the South Jordan Police Department, habits of happy kids in South Jordan, and facts about the city.

Ken Bullock, executive director of the ULCT was also in attendance. He said there is nothing more important for the council to hear than what the constituents expect the city to build and maintain.

“It’s really quite a statement to the teachers and to you as a city to have students be as involved and as articulate as they are,” Bullock said. “My hope is you will continue to do what you are doing.”

As for the prize money, there are no immediate plans for the money given to the school, and Madison is going to keep her winnings in her bank account.

“Maybe I’ll save it for a car or something,” she said.