28,000 Hoosier fourth graders participated in the 2020 program, spanning across 91% of Indiana counties
INDIANAPOLIS (May 8, 2020) – The 500 Festival, a nonprofit organization providing life-enriching events and programs that celebrate the spirit and legacy of the Indianapolis 500®, today announces the winners of its essay contest for the 2020 500 Festival and Indianapolis 500 Education Program, presented by Indiana University Health. In 2020, 28,000 Indiana fourth grade students took part in the Education Program, spanning across 91% of Indiana counties – a record for the program.
The 500 Festival & Indianapolis 500 Education Program, presented by Indiana University Health, immerses Indiana 4th grade students in the world of the Indianapolis 500 and 500 Festival, exploring their important place in the state’s history and culture. The Education Program takes place during the spring and is free and open to all Hoosier 4th grade classrooms. The 500 Festival provides teachers registered for the Education Program with engaging lessons and classroom materials. The award-winning program is an engaging addition to the 4th grade curriculum and is all based on Indiana Academic Standards.
Students participating in the 2020 Essay Contest were asked to write a persuasive letter convincing a family to attend the IPL 500 Festival Parade and the Indianapolis 500. Submissions included vivid descriptions of the sights, sounds, and excitement that a family will experience during the Memorial Day weekend. Students included their newly acquired knowledge of the rich history and traditions that were taught throughout the program. Essays were judged on the basis of focused ideas, compelling word choice, strong voice, and standard writing principals.
This year, five grand-prize winners were selected for the 2020 Essay Contest, a first for the program. As grand-prize winners, each student will receive a prize pack, courtesy of Regions Bank, and an Indianapolis Motor Speedway flag. The teachers of each grand-prize winner will receive a LifeGreen custom cruiser bicycle and helmet, also generously provided by Regions Bank.
The five grand-prize winners of the 2020 Essay Contest include:
- Jackson Smith, a student in Lisa Butcher’s fourth grade class at Newburgh Elementary School. To read Jackson’s award-winning essay, click here.
- Zaiyla Shortill, a student in Valerie Leininger’s fourth grade class at Syracuse Elementary School. To reach Zaiyla’s creative essay, click here.
- Yonatan Alkobi, a student in Lori Austgon’s fourth grade class at Hasten Hebrew Academy. To read Yonatan’s memorable essay, click here.
- Leah Hurst, a student in Valerie Leininger’s fourth grade class at Syracuse Elementary School. To read Leah’s well-written essay, click here.
- Gabrielle Bohl, a student in Melissa White’s fourth grade class at Saint Joseph Hessen Cassel School. To read Gabrielle’s descriptive essay, click here.
“We’re delighted to receive so many memorable and well-written essays this year that articulate the spirit of May in the City of Indianapolis, even during these uncertain times,” said Bob Bryant, president and CEO of the 500 Festival. “The 500 Festival & Indianapolis 500 Education Program, presented by Indiana University Health, plays an important role in furthering the 500 Festival’s mission to enrich lives, foster positive community impact and celebrate the rich history and traditions of the 500 Festival and Indianapolis 500 events.”
To learn more about the Education Program or submit interest for the 2021 program, visit 500Festival.com/EducationProgram.
The Indianapolis 500 & 500 Festival Education Program is supported by: Indiana University Health, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the 500 Festival Foundation, Regions Bank, NTT IndyCar Series, and Honda Manufacturing of Indiana, LLC.
About the 500 Festival
Founded in 1957, the 500 Festival is a not-for-profit organization that produces life-enriching events and programs that celebrate the spirit and legacy of the Indianapolis 500® and foster positive impact on the city of Indianapolis and state of Indiana. One of the largest festivals in the nation, each year more than half a million people attend an event or program produced by the 500 Festival. Since its founding, the 500 Festival has contributed more than $500 million in economic value to Indianapolis. To learn more about the 500 Festival, please visit www.500festival.com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.