The American Immigration Council is proud to announce the first place winner of the 18th annual Celebrate America Fifth Grade Creative Writing Contest. This contest inspires educators to bring U.S. immigration history and lessons into their classrooms and gives fifth graders the opportunity to learn more about immigration to the U.S. and to explain, in their own words, why they are proud America is a nation of immigrants.

First place winner, Anya Frazer from the Fred A. Olds Elementary School in Raleigh, North Carolina, was inspired by her own family’s German and Irish heritage. “I feel that it is important for people to understand and think about what immigrants will do to be part of a free land.” When asked about how immigration has affected her life, Anya described how family members on her mother’s side immigrated to the U.S. in order to escape the war.

Read her entry below:

“Tainted with Tears”

Tainted with tears,
The ships travel across me.
Fear burns my deep blue waters,
Eating away confidence year by year.
They travel,
And bunch by bunch they disappear.
The tension is unimaginable,
My angry waters swirl.
But my waters continue to lick more ships.
Tainted with tears.
Tainted with tears,
The ships travel across me.
On each ship,
A flicker of hope,
A flash blinding my endless waters,
But then it’s gone.
Like a burnt out fire,
Trying to reignite.
But as they catch sight of the golden land,
That fire begins to glow.
It spreads out wide like a seed to soil,
Its timid shoots poking out of the ground.
And still the ships come,
Tainted with tears.

Photo by Melanie Holtsman.