Blanco Middle School sixth grader Taylor Kotfas was the grand prize winner in HEB’s “Summer of Read, Write, and Win Scholarship” essay contest. The first place award, from over 530 entries, was a $15,000 scholarship.
The contest called for students to choose an influential Texan and write an essay about him or her. In honor of the centennial of her birth and her ties to Blanco County, Taylor chose Lady Bird Johnson.
“Her essay really touched our hearts,” said the judges at the awards ceremony, which was held during the Texas Book Festival in the Chamber of the House of Representatives in the State Capitol.
“I chose Lady Bird Johnson to write about, because I really like the pretty bright colors of Texas wildflowers like bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes,” said Taylor. “I admire Lady Bird Johnson because she helped save our state’s native plants from being destroyed when the highways were built.”
“She helped make sure that these beautiful flowers are still being planted by the side of the road so that we can enjoy them today.”
Taylor spent several weeks during the summer researching her subject. In addition to reading several books on her life, she researched the places that were important to Lady Bird by visiting the LBJ National Park in Stonewall, and the National Wildflower Research Center in Austin.
“I’m very excited and happy that all my hard work paid off!” said Taylor.
An HEB executive announced the winners before a packed audience who had come to hear award-winning author Tim O’Brien speak about his books on the Vietnam War.
Taylor was announced as a student at Blanco Middle School and was extremely proud to represent her hometown. She made sure that she carried a Blanco Panther tote bag into the ceremony so that everybody would know where she was from!
Middle School principal Bill Luna said, “With her accomplishment, this young lady has reminded us why we are all here. In Blanco we are learners, leaders, and winners, and little Miss Kotfas is a shining example of that fact.”