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Immigration Writing Contest Celebrates Young Voices

San Antonio chapter announces winning students; awards ceremony takes place on May 28
    SAN ANTONIO, TX, May 29, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Lupita Barrera first joined the Celebrate America writing contest as a judge in 2013. When she was invited to participate again, she did not hesitage to accept.

"Choosing a winner was not an easy decision, but agreeing to judge the entries was," she says. "Many, many of the writings were terrific. What a delight it was to read the essays and to hear the voices of our future leaders."

Barrera (Director of Education and Interpretation at the Institute of Texan Cultures) joined La Prensa's Nina Duran and Worldwide Languages and Communication's Javier Ramon as part of the 2014 panel of judges in the local chapter of Celebrate America (sponsored nationally by the American Immigration Council, and facilitated locally by the law firm De Mott, McChesney, Curtright & Armendáriz). The panel has just annoucned its winners for the 2013-2014 school year, six fifth-grade students (out of nearly 100 from across San Antonio) who submitted poems, essays, and short stories on the subject "Why I Am Glad America Is A Nation of Immigrants."

In the public school category, the winners are:

* 1st place: Jade Gibbs, Bonham Academy
* 2nd place: Daisy Espinoza, Poteet Intermediate
* 3rd place: Gavin Betancourt, Wilshire Elementary School

Betancourt's sister, Promise Pitman, placed first in 2013's contest, marking the first time siblings have participated since the program's San Antonio launch. As their mother, Bianca Betancourt, says, "Just like we pass stories down to our children and grandchildren, now we're passing this contest down from generation to generation. I'm proud of my kids for taking part in it."

In the private and home-school category, the winners are:

* 1st place: Liliana Danford, Saint Thomas More Catholic School
* 2nd place: Isabella Rose Brown, Blessed Sacrament Catholic School
* 3rd place: Chloe Martinez, Blessed Sacrament Catholic School

Danford and Gibbs will each receive a $100 cash prize and a replica of the Statue of Liberty; the second and third place students will also receive cash prizes.

In addition, Mya Barrera, from Bonham Academy, has received an Honorable Mention, and will receive a pass for admission to the Institute of Texan Cultures. Her teacher, Paula Strechlun, will receive $100 for referring the most students to the contest.

The winning students will be recognized at an official Naturalization ceremony, where they will have the opportunity to read their entries before an audience of new United States citizens. This year's ceremony will take place at 2:00pm on Wednesday, May 28, at the Edgewood Theatre of Performing Arts (402 Lance St., San Antonio, TX 78237). "It's always exciting to see the students as they witness the impact of immigration first hand," says Joseph B. De Mott, founding partner of De Mott, McChesney, Curtright & Armendáriz. "I can't think of a greater way to teach them about what it means to be American."

Lupita Barrera adds, "What makes programs like Celebrate America so important is that they inspire children, and families, to explore their history. And that's part of our history too, so it's a wonderful opportunity for all of us to share our stories and learn from one another."

For more information on the contest, please visit the San Antonio chapter's page at

De Mott, McChesney, Curtright, and Armendáriz, LLP (DMCA) is an 18-attorney law firm dedicated to practicing immigration, family, and criminal defense law with staff fluent in English, Spanish, and French. Five of the firm's attorneys are board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization (TBLS) in Immigration and Nationality Law. With almost two centuries of combined immigration experience and extensive resources, DMCA represents individuals and organizations before U.S. federal agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, Department of Labor, Department of State (all U.S. consulates/embassies), the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the Administrative Appeals Office. The firm also litigates before the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the Fifth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. In addition to its headquarters in San Antonio, the firm has offices in Houston, Austin, and San Angelo to allow convenient representation of clients throughout the State; however, the worldwide scope of immigration and the reach of technology have enabled DMCA to become a global law practice serving an international clientele. DMCA is online (, on Twitter (@dmcaimmigration), and on Facebook (

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Lee Hurtado
PrimaDonna Productions, Inc.

San Antonio, Texas
United States
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