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Girls are thankful for this win

Isabelle Morales and Kimberly Wenceslao tie for first place in Newport Dunes' Thanksgiving video and essay contest.

November 26, 2011|By Britney Barnes
  • Kimberly Wenceslao, 11, of Lynwood, left, and Isabelle Morales, 12, of Costa Mesa pose with their first-place checks at the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina. With them is the resort's vice president, Andrew Theodorou. The girls submitted their "What do you have to be thankful for?" one-minute video or written essay to win a $1,000 U.S. Savings Bond. Wenceslao and Morales split the award.
Kimberly Wenceslao, 11, of Lynwood, left, and Isabelle… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

Students from Costa Mesa and Lynwood wowed judges with essays about the reasons for which they were thankful this Thanksgiving.

TeWinkle Middle School student Isabelle Morales and Lindbergh Elementary School sixth-grader Kimberly Wenceslao, 11, tied for first place — winning half of the $1,000 grand prize — in the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina's first Thanksgiving video and essay contest.

"These two really stuck out," said Andrew Theodorou, Newport Dunes executive vice president and general manager. "Very cute, very just, you know in general, all about family. They were to us just the favorites."

The contest asked the question, "What are you thankful for?" and more than 40 students entered by writing an essay or creating a one-minute video. It was difficult to make a decision, but Kimberly and Isabelle's essays caught the judges' eyes, Theodorou said.

"It was nice," Kimberly said about winning. "I couldn't believe it at first because so many people entered that I didn't think I had a chance. I really felt really happy."

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The two girls were treated to lunch Wednesday at Newport Dunes' Back Bay Bistro and were presented with their U.S. Savings Bonds that will mature to $500 each by the time they graduate from high school.

It was the first time at the Newport Beach resort for both girls.

"It was really pretty. I loved it," Isabelle said, adding that she ate some delicious salmon for lunch. "I'm just very glad I got the opportunity to do that, and it was very fun going to lunch."

Kimberly said she wants to use her money to help pay for textbooks while she studies to become a pediatrician at UCLA, and Isabelle said she feels good knowing she has a head start on saving up for college.

It was Kimberly's teacher that told her class about the essay and gave the interested students time to write, and type up, their essays.

Isabelle heard about the contest through the Boys & Girls Club. She said it took her all day to write.

"I kept changing the words — I wanted to make them good," said Isabelle, who likes math more than writing.

For both girls, sitting down and concentrating on what they are thankful for helped them realize just how grateful they are for their friends and family.

"It really has affected me," Kimberly said.

"I think I put more thought in the things my family and friends do for me," Isabelle said.

britney.barnes@latimes.com

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

The Winning Essays

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