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State Sen. Erin Houchin (R-Salem) congratulates Palmyra fourth-grader Olivia Abner for winning first place in this year’s Statehood Day essay contest.

Abner represented Morgan Elementary School as she read her essay to hundreds of students and educators who gathered at the Statehouse in Indianapolis on Thursday. Judges chose her essay from more than 1,000 submitted by fourth-grade students from across Indiana.

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SEN. HOUCHIN HONORS 2014 STATEHOOD DAY ESSAY WINNER: State Sen. Erin Houchin (right) congratulates Palmyra fourth-grader Olivia Abner (left) for winning first place in this year’s Statehood Day essay contest. Judges chose Abner’s essay from more than 1,000 submitted by fourth-grade students from across Indiana. The Statehood Day essay contest is held annually on Dec. 11 to celebrate Indiana becoming the nation’s nineteenth state.

“Seeing young Hoosiers like Olivia take pride in our state is heart-warming,” Houchin said. “Statehood Day is a time to celebrate what makes us Hoosiers. Olivia’s essay brings us back to the beginning and allows us to reflect on the history of this great state. ”

Thursday’s Statehood Day honored the theme of “Hoosier Bicentennial Moments,” with a tour of the Statehouse, as well as a program with remarks from government officials, displays of original copies of Indiana’s 1816 and 1851 constitutions and the reading of Abner’s winning essay.

“‘Bicentennial moments’ surround me,” Abner read. “Growing up in Harrison County, home to Corydon and the first state capitol, I see history every day.  The entire town of Corydon is historical and then there are treasures from the early years that still exist.”

Sponsored by the Indiana Statehouse Tour Office and Indiana State Library, the Statehood Day essay contest for fourth-grade students is held annually on Dec. 11 to celebrate Indiana becoming the nation’s nineteenth state. More information can be found at www.in.gov/library/statehood.htm.