“I wrote about my pop pop in the military” – 3rd-grader wins essay contest; soars in hot-air balloon

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HAZLET -

A third-grader from Hazlet who won an essay contest about what the American flag means to her won the prize of soaring over her elementary school in a hot-air balloon.

The people from the QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning, as well as PNC Bank, put on the annual contest -- asking elementary school children to write an essay about what the American flag means to them. 

This year's contest winner was Sara Topolewski, a third-grader at Raritan Valley Elementary School in Hazlet.

The prize was a hot-air balloon ride with her friends and family.

“I wrote about my pop pop in the military and him coming home,” says Sara. “I was happy to see him home.”

It’s actually the second time a student won in four years from the same elementary school.

Sara said she wants to go even higher at next month's festival of ballooning in Readington.

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