Compton Unified School District (CUSD) Foster Elementary School first-grader Naomi Andrade is one of only 12 southern California students honored for their excellent writing at this year's PBS SoCal Writers Contest.
Naomi won Second Place in the first grade competition for her illustrated story on the importance of generosity simply titled, "Share." She also read her work during the awards ceremony held at PBS SoCal's studios last month.
The PBS SoCal Writers Contest challenged LA and Orange county students with writing and illustrating their own stories. Only 12 winners out of 350 submissions were selected.
"I wanted to write about sharing because it feels great to share. It's a good thing to do. If you have a lot of toys and you share you have more fun. You enjoy them more," said Naomi, who also shared why she loves to read and write.
"When I read it feels like I'm in another place. When I write I feel like I'm grown up and teaching kids how to learn."
Naomi's father Jose said part of her success comes from how she is always encouraged to read and write at home.
"We were ecstatic to see her win an award. Out of all the kids who sent in stories in southern California, she's one of the winners," he said.
"But, I think the reason why she did so well is because we encourage her to read, write, and learn as much as she can. She does that more than she watches TV or play video games."
Jose added, "We want her to see that without education she has nothing. It's the only way to get ahead in life. You have to learn as much as you can so you can achieve."
Soledad, Naomi's mother, said she's proud of her daughter's achievement.
"It took work to write her story but she was able to come up with a good one. I told her to just use her imagination. She made up the story all on her own," she said.
"She's very smart. She loves math, reading, and is very engaged in school. She knows her education is what matters. That's how she can build a future for herself."
Principal Jessicka Mears praised Naomi's win as a reflection of the hard work taking place in Foster Elementary's classrooms.
"At Foster Elementary School we are focused on closing the achievement gap by offering opportunities for our scholars. PBS SoCal is one of our partners who support literacy on our campus," she said.
"We are very proud to have one of our outstanding scholars, Naomi, participate and place in the writing contest. Her teacher, Mr. Burnett, shares my vision that within our school building we can change the world."
Foster's community resource specialist Beverly Deese said she expects more students at the school will participate in the coming year.
"To see our kids shine...that's what it's all about," she said. "It's wonderful to have a winner our first time participating. Now the competition will be more fierce next semester because the teachers will want to come out bigger and stronger next year."