By Lauren Zeugner
SYRACUSE — Syracuse Elementary School fourth-grader Landry McDonald was a bit puzzled when he was summoned to the school office before school announcements were made Thursday, May 19. Then his parents, Kelly and Sheila, showed up.
No, McDonald was not is serious trouble. He was there to hear his teacher, Valerie Leininger, announce to the entire school that he had won a statewide contest held by the 500 Festival and Indianapolis 500 Education Program. McDonald and his parents were stunned to hear the news.
McDonald received four parade tickets, a membership to Indy Car’s Rookie Program and four tickets for the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500. The 500 Festival also partnered with Regions Bank to create a prize pack for him.
And Leininger, as the teacher of the winning student, will be receiving a prize pack as well. She is receiving two parade tickets and a Regions Bank prize pack of classroom supplies.
Fourth-grade students from around the state were invited to submit an entry to the annual essay contest and were judged on the basis of focused ideas, compelling word choice, strong voice and standard writing principles. The essays were limited to 300 words.
This year the students who participated in the contest were asked to write about who they would recommend as Grand Marshal for the AES 500 Festival Parade. For this parade, the Grand Marshal may be a Hoosier from the past or present. Students were asked who they would choose and why would that Hoosier deserve the honor of AES 500 Festival Parade Grand Marshal.
McDonald recommended his mother in the essay below:
“Dear Parade Committee:
“Do you have anyone in your family who is able to take six kids to practices in one day plus help those kids work together to make a homemade meal? Thankfully I do. I think my mom deserves to be the grand marshal of the Indy 500 Festival Parade.
“She is very organized and has to deal with six kids running around and making messes constantly. When something else comes up she rearranges the schedule easily and she is also really sweet to everybody. It’s like everybody she sees is her friend or her friend’s child.
“She helps me with tons of things. She’s there when I need help with homework and laundry. She also helps clean my room and do the dishes. She comforts me when I get hurt and when I’m sad.
“My mom is the most amazing person I know and I think if you knew her you would think so too. She is trustworthy and you can trust her with almost everything. For example, I can trust her with my debit card.
“She is amazing and these are the reasons why I think that my mom should be the grand marshal of the 2022 parade. You should too after all this information!”