“America Is …” Video Contest Celebrated What Brings Americans Together

May 18, 20225/18/2022


The importance of teaching patriotism doesn’t need to be limited to learning to love one’s country. It also can be an avenue for developing an identity, respecting others’ accomplishments and making selfless choices for the good of fellow citizens.

You can see such ideals in how students across the U.S. recently used their creativity to create original videos that showcased what makes the country come together. In all, students from 28 schools participated in this year’s WoodmenLife “America Is …” Video Contest, all seeking a part of the $5,000 in prize money.

Kindergarteners all the way to eighth graders were invited to submit an original, up-to-60-second video illustrating the theme, “We the People.” The top three videos were selected by online voting on the WoodmenLife Facebook page, and when the nearly 5,000 votes were counted, the results were:

  • First Place: $2,500 – West Point Elementary, West Point, NE
  • Second Place: $1,500 – Kiroli Elementary, West Monroe, LA
  • Third Place: $1,000 — Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary, Rio Rancho, NM

“WoodmenLife is thrilled to host this yearly contest because we get to see elementary students from across the country celebrating our nation and showing their pride for their communities,” said Patrick L. Dees, WoodmenLife President & CEO.

Hear From the Winners

Upon learning of their classes’ selection as one of the top three entries, the winning teachers were understandably pleased. Not just for the receiving prize money, but also for being able to share the importance of patriotism and giving their pupils the chance to express that importance.

“Thank you WoodmenLife for this fun opportunity to show our patriotism,” Alyssa H. Schuetze of West Point Elementary said.

“I can’t thank you enough for this award!” said Kara Hawkins from Kiroli Elementary. “Keeping patriotism in the eye of our students and motivating them is so important. My son is a Marine serving our country.

“It means the world to me.”


West Point Elementary

West Point Elementary students celebrating their “America Is …” Video Contest success during the check presentation.

Sharing Their Key To Success

Schuetze’s class was guided by the principle of inclusion to describe what “We the People” means.

“In a world of acceptance, it takes all of us from diverse families coming together to make America what it is!” she said.  “Here at West Point, we are the people. We are the future. We are America!”

Those three points were driven home by her fourth-graders’ video. They chanted the slogan with images of students holding each letter in “America” trading places with them holding “America” signs and with dramatically lighted video of the class displaying the word “America.”

When the images of each letter appeared, it contained students holding words that started with the image’s letter and that described the kids, their class and their country. Like “Adventurous” for “A,” “Marvelous” for “M,” “Energetic” for “E,” “Resilient” for “R,” “Irreplaceable” for “I,” Clever” for “C,” and “Awesome” for “A.”

West Point’s submission also captured the essence of why WoodmenLife sponsors the contest.

Schuetze’s class voted on how they wanted to use their prize money and they decided to donate the majority of the money to a local park to purchase accessible playground equipment.


Kiroli Elementary

Representatives Terry Pippens, Doty Guinn and Morgan Crooks present the second place prize check to Kiroli Elementary.
From left: Terry Pippens, WoodmenLife Representative; Kara Hawkins, fifth-grade social studies teacher; Doty Guinn, WoodmenLife Representative; Carolyn Norris, Principal; Haleigh Poole, fourth-grade social studies teacher; Morgan Crooks, WoodmenLife Representative

How The Video Came To Be

For their video, Hawkins’ students decided to focus on the Colonial period and how those yet-to-be-Americans had to work together to forge a new nation. Both the fourth- and fifth-grade classes had recently learned about the Jamestown Colony.

“The first part of our video shows women working in fields with crops,” Hawkins said. “Next, the men are building homes and cooking over open fire. The children dressed in Colonial costumes and/or red, white and blue for the ending clip shouting, ‘We are the people of the United States of America!’”

With the second-place prize money, Hawkins would love to purchase a 3-D printer.

“I have students complete a large project where they create their own unique civilization based on the characters we’ve studied,” she said, “and I have had students in the past bring in models or artifacts they have printed, using these. Everyone loves seeing them!

“I have always wanted one too so that each student could contribute to creating. What a special memory that would be for each student!”


Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary

Representatives Brandon Armstrong and Jeni Parks present the third place check to Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary.
Top row, from left: Sarah Garcia, Assistant Principal; Brandon Armstrong, WoodmenLife Recruiting Sales Manager; Jeni Parks, WoodmenLife Representative; Christi Erben, PTSA Treasurer; Ashley Giron, PTSA President
Bottom row, from left: Brielle Garcia, Jordan Morton, Jak Munson, Kaylin Borawski, Hallie Burke, Caleb Reed; Elisha Morrison, Gifted Program Teacher; Greyson Morrison, Keith Lee, Tyler Clayton, Cody Welch-Foster, Zachary Erben

Their Story

“My fourth- and fifth-grade students came up with the idea to express the rights and freedoms they are thankful America allows,” said teacher Elisha Morrison.

And their idea starts with a mock lecture that turns into a melee – complete with an “arrest” – over what one student says. The arrest is protested, and due process demanded because Americans are allowed the freedom of expression and accorded the right to a fair trial.

From there, a sequence of students recites the rights for which they’re thankful. They take a little from the Bill of Rights and a smattering from the Declaration of Independence. Together, they sum up the freedoms that stitch together Americans.

Morrison’s class was narrowly outvoted for second place, but she’s happy with finishing third. She said her class hopes to contribute their winnings to the fundraising campaign for a new school marquee.

To see the winner’s videos, visit our YouTube Channel.


Celebrating Patriotism Year-round

WoodmenLife has long provided opportunities to celebrate the American freedoms we enjoy and thank those who protect them. Here are some of the ways WoodmenLife shares our love of country:

  • Participating in Flags Across America, which includes projects each June like placing flags on the graves of Veterans. Flags Across America programs and sites are sponsored by the National Flag Foundation
  • Joining or hosting In Honor and Remembrance ceremonies, which honor the heroes and victims of the 9/11 attacks, as well as local community heroes and volunteers
  • Recognizing local citizens for their patriotism with awards
  • Holding flag retirement ceremonies and remaining dedicated to the proper care of the American flag
  • Participating in parades and events for Memorial Day, Independence Day and other patriotic occasions
  • Celebrating Red, White & Blue®, which presents 30 x 60 foot American flags at local high school and community college football games and other community events before the national anthem plays
  • Presenting flags to nonprofit organizations and communities – more than 3.5 million since 1947


About WoodmenLife

We’ve been helping to protect the financial future of families like yours, making a difference in hometowns across America and honoring our country since 1890. As a not-for-profit life insurance company, we put money back into the community. We’re here when you need us most.




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We’ve been helping to protect the financial future of families like yours, making a difference in hometowns across America and honoring our country since 1890. As a not-for-profit life insurance company, we put money back into the community. We’re here when you need us most.

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