04-20-2009 07:39 PM CET - Science & Education

A Perfect Performance For Two Local Schools

Press release from: De Mott, McChesney, Curtright & Associates

SAN ANTONIO – In the fall of 2008, the Immigration Law firm of De Mott, McChesney, Curtright & Associates announced its sixth year of local participation in “Celebrate America”, an annual writing contest for 5th graders sponsored by the American Immigration Law Foundation (AILF) as part of its continual ongoing efforts to educate the public about the benefits of immigration to our society. Now, as the 2008-2009 contest comes to a close, two schools will be spotlighted for their remarkable performance.

In each of the two categories of the writing contest – based on the topic “Why I Am Glad America Is A Nation Of Immigrants” – three students from a single school have been chosen as winners. Three students from Agnes Cotton Elementary (SAISD) have been named as the contest’s public school winners:

1st Place: Nayelli Hernandez
2nd Place: Giselle Martinez
3rd Place: Lilliana Capistron

In addition, three students will represent Blessed Sacrament Catholic School in the private school category:

1ST Place: Ashley Suarez
2nd Place: Christina Rodriguez
3rd Place: Sabrina Gonzalez

“It's unprecedented for two schools to produce all the winners,” says Joseph B. De Mott, founding partner of the nearly 30-year-old immigration law firm and local coordinator for the national contest, “especially considering how strong the entries were this year. We received nearly 100, so it was just as great a challenge for the judges to select the winners as it was last year.” Dawn Cortez, a teacher at Blessed Sacrament, says, “We were hoping for just one winner last year, so imagine our surprise when we found out we had two. To have three this year is exciting beyond words.”

The judges who chose those winners included Tino Duran, Publisher & Owner of La Prensa and Director of La Prensa Foundation, Inc; Hernán Rozemberg, then Senior Writer on Immigration Affairs for the San Antonio Express-News; and U.S. Representative Charles Gonzalez (D-TX), who served as an honorary judge. “We were especially impressed with the quality of the winning entries,” De Mott says. “Beyond being well-written, they were also truly heartfelt; it was clear that the students – and the teachers who encouraged them – were engaged with the issue of immigration on a very personal level. Tino, as a first-generation American, was especially moved by the stories we read.” Duran adds, “The personal stories struck a deep note with me. When I read them, I felt the words, and I felt the students’ ties to their culture.”

The annual presentation of the contest’s local winners will be held in conjunction with the City of San Antonio’s Cinco de Mayo celebration; as De Mott explains, “We’re proud to have worked with the City on this event for several years; for a contest that celebrates what immigrants, including Mexicans, contribute to our society and culture, it’s fitting to have our winners participate in a festival that celebrates Mexican culture.” On Saturday, May 2, 2009 at 12:30 PM, on the inside stage of the Farmer’s Market, the young authors will read their winning entries aloud; each of the first place winners will receive a $100 cash prize and a replica of the Statue of Liberty, while the second place winners will each receive $60, and the third place winners will receive $40. The event is free and open to all, and attendees are also encouraged to enjoy the city’s other Cinco de Mayo festivities.

For the second consecutive year, the winning students have also been invited by U.S. Magistrate Judge John W. Primomo, of the Western District of Texas, to read their entries before an audience of new citizens at a naturalization ceremony to take place at 2PM on Thursday, May 21, at Laurie Auditorium (715 Stadium Drive, on the campus of Trinity University). “When Judge Primomo invited the students to attend the naturalization ceremony in 2008, they were thrilled,” recalls De Mott. “Being able to witness the benefits of immigration firsthand was an incredible learning experience for them, and I can’t think of a better demonstration of the mission behind this contest.” After the awards ceremony, winning entries will be posted on the law firm’s website at www.demottusa.com.

Since his firm’s involvement in the contest began, De Mott has visited several public and private schools, answering questions from students at Cotton Elementary and Blessed Sacrament Catholic School, as well as such schools as Olmos Elementary (NEISD) and Mount Sacred Heart School, among others. Victoria Martinez, a teacher at Olmos Elementary, is an enthusiastic supporter of the contest; one of her students, Gilbert Herrera, placed second in the public-school category in the 2008 contest, and Martinez says that Herrera’s involvement “sparked a creative mind to continue to write.” De Mott adds, “As citizens, we all have a stake in the performance of our schools, and we all want to know that our students are engaged and passionate about learning, so to see what the winning students have accomplished is very encouraging. I'm proud to be a part of that.”

Background of AILF
The American Immigration Law Foundation (AILF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to increasing public understanding of Immigration Law and policy and the value of immigration to American society; to promote public service and excellence in the practice of Immigration Law; and to advancing fundamental fairness and due process under the law of immigrants. For more information, please visit www.ailf.org.

Background of De Mott, McChesney, Curtright & Associates
The law firm of De Mott, McChesney, Curtright & Associates consists of 9 San Antonio lawyers who practice Immigration Law. The founding partner, Joseph B. De Mott, has been practicing Immigration Law in San Antonio for over 33 years, and has been certified as a specialist in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 1981. For more information, please visit www.demottusa.com or call 210.590.1844.

Nikki Young or Lee Hurtado
PrimaDonna Productions, Inc.
8603 Crownhill Blvd., Suite 30
San Antonio, TX 78209
Phone: 210.822.3552
E-mail: press@primadonnaproductions.com

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