Each year on December 11, we celebrate Indiana's statehood. Though the date is foremost a commemoration of Indiana's entry into the union as the 19th state, it's also an opportunity to celebrate Indiana's present and future – our abundant agricultural resources, beautiful scenery, diverse economy and kind, hardworking citizens.
Indiana has come a long way since 1816, but it's these aspects of our state that have and will always define us as Hoosiers. As our 196th birthday nears, it's an important time to reflect on what makes our state, and those who call it home, unique.
This month, I invite all Hoosier fourth-graders to participate in Indiana's annual Statehood Day essay contest by answering the question, "What does Indiana mean to you?" before October 29.
As someone who has a great deal of pride in our state – both in our rich history and where we are today – I encourage all Hoosier students to take this opportunity to really think about why Indiana is a great place to live.
The essay competition is open to any fourth-grade public, private or home-schooled student and is easy to enter. The following rules apply:
•Essays must include the student's name, teacher's or parent's name, school's name and contact information, including address and telephone number.
•Entries must range from 100 to 400 words, handwritten or typed.
•Students should convey what living in the state of Indiana means to them and highlight things that make them glad to be a Hoosier.
•Essays must be postmarked no later than Monday, October 29. Mailed essays should be sent to:
Indiana Center for the Book
315 West Ohio St.
Indianapolis, IN 46202
I would also like to extend an invitation to all local fourth-grade classrooms to join state leaders in Indianapolis for a Statehood Day celebration on Tuesday, December 11.
Students will have the opportunity to tour their state's capital, visit historic sites and speak with special guests from all three branches of government – executive, legislative and judicial. The Statehouse and other government buildings will be open for students to participate in educational activities with a focus on Indiana history and the functions of state government.
The winners of the Statehood Day essay contest will be invited to read their essays during the Indianapolis celebration. For more information about the Statehood Day programs, visit www.in.gov/idoa/2774.htm.
Because I've grown up, worked, raised a family and served on behalf of Hoosiers in our area, I know there is no other state like Indiana. I hope many families and teachers will get involved to help our young students learn their state's history and what being a Hoosier is all about.