The first place winners of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) history month essay contest were heard at the regular St. Joseph Bay Chapter dinner meeting held at Sunset Coastal Grill on Feb. 22.

This year’s topics, “Celebrating a Century: America’s National Parks” for grades 5-8 and “Technology’s Impact on the Voyage of Christopher Columbus” for grades 9-12 were handled excellently by these outstanding young people, who informed the DAR members with their creative presentations of their topics.

Below is the essay written by sixth-grade winner Skyler Clayton.

 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

By Skylar Makenzie Clayton

Faith Christian School

 

June 13, 2016, 6:03 p.m.

Bryson City, TN

 

Dear Journal,

As I arrived to the Great Smoky Mountains, I noticed several tall mountains, bright blue bodies of water and many vibrant green trees. I also saw a sign that said there were mountains that were 6,000 feet high with 16 peaks. Wow, that is tall. As I went up to the front desk to register for my cabin, I realized I was one of the 9.5 million people who visit this wonderful park a year. When I walked to my cabin I couldn’t help but notice the thousands of different colored flowers. My favorite ones were the beautiful purple flowers with hints of bright yellow. I thought to myself, my Nana would love these in a vase on her dining room table. As I am imagining the smile on her face, I heard a loud “Swoosh” by my ear and caught a glimpse of the Blue-Headed Vireo.

As I continued my way to the cabin, I stopped for a quick fishing adventure with a local fisherman. Mr. Sam was known to the area as an avid fisherman who knows where the biggest fish are located. He taught me how to bait my hook with a slimy worm and cast further than your eye could see. Just as soon as my worm hit the water, a strong tug almost pulled me into the stream. Mr. Sam said, “Reel quick.” I snatched my pole up and began to reel and reel and reel. It felt life forever. As my arm began to ache, I saw the most beautiful Rainbow Trout appear on the end of my hook. We weighed my catch of the day and it weighed 10.5 pounds. We ate very well tonight. It was delicious.

As I went on my way to my cabin, I came across a family of elk grazing grass. My presence did not scare them, so I took the opportunity to snap a couple of pictures for my parents back home. Finally, I made my way to my cabin where I unpacked my backpack and headed for my sunset horseback ride. As the sun set, the fog set over the streams. Once this happened, I couldn’t help but notice the bright light in the corner of my eye. I quickly turned my horse around and notice the amazing firefly show. They seemed to be dancing with each other. After watching the show, I decided it was time to call it a day.

I felt my eyes getting heavy, so decided to go to the cabin to relax in my nice, cozy bed, read the history of the park and write in my journal. While I read the history of the park, I found out it was established during my Great-Great Grands era, on June 15, 1934, by David Chapman, Ann Davis, Paul Fink, Horace Kephart, George Masa, Ben Morton, Mark Squires, Jim Thompson and Charles A. Webb. A goal of $2 million was set to establish the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but with all the local help they raised $5 million. One of my favorites Presidents, Franklin D. Roosevelt, dedicated the Great Smoky Mountains on September 2, 1940. He stated, “There are trees here that stood before our forefathers ever came to this continent; there are brooks that still run as clear as on the day the first pioneer cupped his hands and drank from it.”

 

June 14, 2016, 5:45 p.m.

Bryson City, TN

 

 

Dear Journal,

I woke up extra early this morning to watch the sunrise on the back porch of my cabin. I noticed a mom and cub enjoying a crisp morning as well. The sunrise and bears were a beautiful sight, something I would never see back home. I went back inside to get ready for my adventure for the day. As I left my cabin, I noticed a large group of turkeys. They quickly ran off when they noticed me. I hopped onto my horse and rode to the picnic grounds were I ate breakfast with my cabin neighbor. After breakfast, I rode over to Grotto Falls and walked right under the most beautiful waterfall ever with crystal clear water. After taking in the beautiful waterfall, I set off to hike on a trail called Rocky Top. The first five miles were at an incline and were tough, but when I got to Spence Field, the terrain was smooth and flat. I could finally breathe again. It was acres and acres of green grassy meadows. I am so glad I chose this train out of the 850 miles located on the Great Smoky Mountains National Parks because this must be the most stunning setting I have ever seen. Finally, it was time for dinner, so I met up with cabin neighbor again. As we ate dinner, we shared our adventures for the day. This busy day had me exhausted, so I headed to the cabin to document my day and rest my eyes.

 

June 15, 2016, 9 p.m.

Bryson City, TN

 

 

Dear Journal,

As I woke this morning I was terribly sad because this was my last day in the Great Smoky Mountains, and I had to pack up to go back home. As I checked out at the front desk, I couldn’t help but remember the great fishing, wild animals, beautiful flowers, amazing waterfalls, memorable hiking trails and beautiful sunsets. I will certainly be back.