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Sunday, May 1, 2016

He's a winner

Thursday, May 18, 2006

ALTON -- Alton fifth grader Frank Alford received more than writing and English awards at the fifth grade awards assembly at the school May 8. Frank, mom, dad and younger brother James have been awarded a four- night, five-day all expense paid trip to Branson.

Alford was presented the Branson vacation by his communications arts teacher, Jennifer Barr. His parents, Charles and Bobbi Alford, and Barr were aware the family had received the gift and had kept it a secret from the student until the day of the assembly.

Alford was visibly surprised and expressed great joy when Barr started telling him about the vacation package. Some of his classmates told Alford they were more than willing to help if he needed assistance with the Branson vacation.

"The idea to award Frank with a Branson vacation came about when one of our Branson Chamber of Commerce members, Cindy Merry, read an article in The South Missouri News about Frank winning the Studies Weekly Inc. contest, "Let's Write," said Branson Chamber of Commerce Director of Public Relations Jennifer McCullough.

His story appeared in the Nov. 5 issue of The South Missourian News announcing he won the contest. Studies Weekly is a children's educational publication that appears in 70 newspapers in more than 33 states, with topics including social studies, history, geography, science and technology.

Alford's story focused on trying to get readers to visit Missouri. Some of the highlights of the state the young writer mentioned included St. Louis and the Gateway Arch, the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team and the St. Louis Blues hockey team.

He told readers St. Genevieve is the oldest town in Missouri and that Sedalia is where the Missouri State Fair takes place. He wrote of Columbia being the home of the University of Missouri and the Mizzou Tigers.

Alford ended his story by writing, "Last, but definitely not least, is Branson, Mo. It is the home of many shows, rides and hotels. This is why kids of America need to visit Missouri."

"We were delighted to see Frank is a fan of our city and wanted to reward him for his outstanding achievement and writing talent," McCullough said.

McCullough said after Merry shared The South Missourian News article about Alford, the Branson Chamber of Commerce thought the student might enjoy some time in Branson this summer.

"We contacted the principal at Alton Elementary School, Joby Steele, and shared our idea but asked that the prize be kept a secret from Frank until we could arrange the vacation plans with his parents," she said.

McCullough said the chamber staff along with Frank's mother planned a wonderful vacation for the whole family in mid-June.

The Alford family will be staying at Still Waters Resort on Table Rock Lake. "This is a wonderful place for a family to spend their vacation. They have condominiums, playgrounds, a water park, paddle boats and a sandy beach," McCullough said.

The family will also receive tickets to the following Branson shows and attractions: Silver Dollar City, Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum, Ride the Ducks, Baldknobbers Jamboree Show, Titanic: The World's Largest Museum Attraction, Jim Stafford Show, Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede Dinner and Show and the Track Amusement Center.

"I was really surprised when my teacher announced the vacation surprise," Frank said.

The family spent a few days in Branson a couple of years ago for the boy's birthday.

"I love Branson. We are going to have a great time. I love my family. If I was just getting to go without my family, I don't think I could do it," he said.

Frank said he likes to write to entertain people. "I like to make them laugh," he said.

He received many awards connected with his writing skills at the awards ceremony. They include the English Award for the highest grade in his class, the Excellence in English Award, first place in Creative Writing Contest, USA Weekly Writing Award, and a Young Poets Award for his poem "Turkey Hunting vs. Sports."

When asked what he was going to do when he grew up, Frank said, "I love baseball. More than anything I would love to be a Major League Baseball player. If that doesn't work out I know I will always have something to fall back on."

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