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Waverly Student Wins AARP 'Grandparent of the Year' Essay Contest

AARP South Dakota congratulates the 2011 AARP Grandparent of the Year Essay Contest winner, Callie Mueller of Florence, SD. Mueller, a 5th grader at Waverly School, received a plaque and a $500 savings bond from AARP South Dakota for her winning essay on why her Grandmother, Avis Schafer-DeBerg of Watertown should be AARP’s Grandparent of the Year.

See Also: Watch a video of Mueller reading her winning essay on YouTube

In the essay, Mueller wrote that her grandmother instills in her the importance of getting a good education, encourages being involved in worthwhile clubs and activities and emphasizes working hard to achieve goals.

“My grandmother doesn’t spoil her grandchildren with or shower us with gifts and treats, but gives gifts that are far more important,” wrote Mueller. She also described how her Grandmother attends as many of her grandchildren’s events and activities as she can to cheer them on and show her support, and by setting a good example in her own life.

Mueller’s parents joined 11-year-old Callie in Pierre May 4 as she read her essay before the South Dakota Retired Teachers’ Association (SDRTA) convention, where she also received her plaque. Shafer-DeBerg taught at area schools for more than 40 years, and is currently a member of the Watertown Area Retired Teachers (WARTA).

Forty seven schools participated in the annual essay contest. Mueller’s essay was chosen as the best from 1,168 submissions. Members of the SDRTA across South Dakota supported the contest by facilitating school participation and judging the submitted essays.

AARP supports the annual Grandparent Essay Contest to raise awareness of the more than 8,000 children living in grandparent-headed households in South Dakota. Of those children, more than 5,000 are living in grandparent-headed households without any parental presence in the home. AARP's commitment to this issue includes publishing a quarterly report that tracks the number of grandchildren being raised by grandparents in each state and provides state-specific resources to grandparents to help them access assistance programs.

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