Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush announced the fourth and seventh grade grand prize winners of the Texas General Land Office’s Save Texas History Program 2018 Save Texas History Essay Contest. The fourth-grade winner is Laila Prest of Menard. Cooper Caswell of Ira is the seventh-grade winner.

The contest encouraged students to write an essay based on the question, “What history in your community is worth saving?”, a press release from the TGLO said.

“As a former history teacher, I am proud to announce the recipients of the 2018 annual Save Texas History Essay Contest: fourth grader, Laila Prest and seventh grader Cooper Caswell,” Bush said in the release. "It is especially rewarding to see students learn more about our state's rich history through their participation in the Save Texas History Essay Contest. Thank you to all the young Texans who submitted their essays as well as the parents and teachers who encouraged their participation. The submissions were impressive and full of inspiring examples of how future generations of Texans can appreciate the rich history in their local communities and around the state. Congratulations to our winners and to all those who participated.”

Prest, daughter of Amie Prest, is a homeschooler in Menard. Her essay, “Menard, Texas: Honoring the Past, Looking to the Future,” discussed the importance of saving the overall history and culture of her community.

In the essay, Laila said, “We can save buildings, monuments, and historical sites, but saving a culture is a more difficult thing to do. When I look at paintings and photographs of my ancestors, I see seven generations of dedicated people working tirelessly to build a future for their families and community.”

Caswell is the son of J.J. and Laura Caswell and is in Anna Fonville’s class at Ira School in Ira. Caswell’s essay, “Heritage Village of Scurry County,” discussed how “the village shows the rich history of development in our area through farming, ranching, transportation, oil field, and wind mills.”

Additionally, Cooper said, “If I win this contest the money would go forward to helping pay for these repairs.”

Prest and Caswell will each receive a cash award of $500, courtesy of Chris Cantu of Edward Jones Investments and Bob Eskridge of Just in Time Staffing. Five finalists in each grade will receive $100, courtesy of the Rotary Club of Austin and the Sons of the Republic of Texas.

All winners and finalists will receive a Texas flag that has been flown over the northern-most point of the Republic of Texas (in present-day Wyoming), along with a certificate of authenticity, the release said. Each will also receive Save Texas History backpacks and a reproduction of an historic map from the GLO Archives map collection; and a certificate of achievement, signed by Commissioner Bush.

The names of all finalists can be found at

All public, private and home-schooled students of appropriate age for the fourth grade or seventh grade were eligible to participate. Essays for the annual contest are judged on originality of idea, cohesiveness of thought and organization; with proper grammar, spelling and punctuation also counted.