Student wins essay contest

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY -- Danielle Hatten made a quick impression on her West Town Elementary School homeroom teacher Adrienne Savage.

After joining her classmates about two weeks after school began as a result of moving from Lake Park near Valdosta, Danielle showed great promise.

"You don't have to remind her of something, she just does it," said Savage, a 26-year teacher. "She started a couple weeks after school started and became the leader of the class."

Danielle's leadership potential came to fruition recently when she beat out nearly 1,000 other fifth-graders from across the state to win first place in the Georgia Emergency Management Agency's "Ready Georgia" essay contest. Her essay covered items needed to make a family emergency kit and included family pets' needs.

"I did four drafts and then I put it all together," said Danielle, who's also a school cheerleader, sings in the chorus, is involved in 4-H and was elected president of the first-year Addy Book Club. "At first I didn't think I'd win and second place would've been good, but now that I'm in first place it's even better."

Savage believed Danielle had a good chance at winning the competition.

"She's a strong writer," she said. "Her thoughts are good and we have a supply kit in our room, so she had a general idea of what was supposed to be in there. We discussed man-made floods and how we can prevent those things from happening again."

Teresa Neff, who teaches reading and language arts, also came away impressed with Danielle's essay entry.

"Her ideas were well connected and she thought about the writing process," said Neff, an 18-year teacher. "I mean, they write every day. They write every day in all subject areas. Just because you're in math doesn't mean you can forget about where the period goes. It's not just when they get in Ms. Neff's class for writing. They have to think about it in all subjects and it's a group effort with all the teachers in all the grades."

As a result of her state title, Danielle won a Home Depot emergency preparedness kit. The kit included a rechargeable flashlight, weather radio flashlight, duct tape, plastic sheeting, manual can opener and other items. She also received a Disney DVD/CD package with DVDs "Meet the Robinsons" and "Sonny With a Chance," and CDs "That's So Raven" and "Camp Rock."

Danielle also received a congratulatory letter from Dougherty County School System Superintendent Sally Whatley.

"As superintendent, I am very proud of you," Whatley wrote. "To know a great deal about emergency preparedness and the steps that should be taken to prepare families for emergencies is truly commendable."

The fact that her essay helps parents and families learn how to establish an emergency preparedness kit also impressed Danielle's principal at West Town Elementary, Alene Pringle.

"It's very important because it told the parents how to get ready for a disaster, as well as the community," she said.