A Baxter Springs, Kansas student won the VFW Patriot's Pen Essay Contest at the local, district and state level, and also received the State of California Award of $500. She also won 42nd place on the national level out of 46.
Eighth grader Shayla Hopkins was recognized Thursday for her achievement.
This year's contest theme was "What Patriotism means to me" and Hopkins says her knowledge of history really helped.
"I was completely ecstatic - I was so excited I screamed," says Hopkins. "I like history, I mean it's not my favorite, but it's something I've really been interested in and actually having to think about it, I don't know, I just - it clicked."