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Imagination leads to honor
Essay by Michael Gross, 8, receives national award
W MichaelGross
Michael Gross shows off his award from Random House for his imaginative essay.

                             8-year-old Michael Gross' winning essay
      The Wright brother's first flight from Kitty Hawk Beach, North Carolina would make interesting material for a Magic Tree House book simply because it was the first known successful air flight.
      Children could experience some of the thought processes leading up to that historic moment, as well as, experience that flight giving them a little insight into what led us into a future of traveling on airplanes, fighting battles from the air, and, eventually, flying into space landing on the moon.
      Today we take air travel for granted because none of us can remember a time when we couldn't just hop on an airplane and fly wherever we need to go. We now fly anywhere for fun and business.
      Now we fight battles in the air. We now can fly over enemy countries to gather data, and drop bombs when necessary. Unmanned flights are still new and are most useful in dangerous situations. Wounded soldiers are carried to safety faster than ever before.
      Today, people have walked on the moon, some live in space stations, and we send information gathering data in dangerous situations. Wounded soldiers are carried to safety faster than ever before.
      That first flight from Kitty Hawk led us to new lives that the people before us only dreamed of. The luxury of flying, the air battles, and trips into space have opened new doors to a future that may take us as far as our imaginations can carry us.

     The wild imagination of 8-year-old Michael Gross took him farther than a day dream adventure when his essay describing the wonders of air and space travel gained him national recognition.
      Kids Crooked House teamed up with Random House Children's Books last year to kick off the Magic Tree House Essay Contest, inspired by author Mary Pope Osborne's "Magic Tree House" series.
      Random House is the long-time publisher of Osborne's popular series filled with themes of adventure, imagination, and creativity.
      When the essay contest was introduced last April, children ages 7 to 12 were invited to tap into their wildest ideas of adventure and creativity.
      One grand prize winner would be awarded their very own crooked playhouse.
      Gross, who lives in Swainsboro, was among 10 others nationwide who were hand-picked by Osborne for their exceptional essay entries.
      Gross, a third-grader at Swainsboro Primary School, along with children across the nation were prompted to write about an adventure they would like to have in the Magic Tree House, with the ability to travel through time and space, keeping with Osborne's themes.
      "Michael has one very active imagination," said Lester Dunaway, Michael's uncle.
      That active imagination and his insatiable curiosity are what earned Gross his runner-up spot.
      The contest was introduced to students at Swainsboro Primary last November, when Gross decided that "the Wright brothers' first flight from Kitty Hawk Beach, North Carolina would make interesting material for a Magic Tree House book, simply because it was the first known successful air flight," as he noted in the opening of his essay.
      Gross was 7 when he wrote the essay but celebrated his 8th birthday shortly before discovering his achievement.
In February, he received an autographed copy of "Day of the Cobra" with a personal message from author and contest judge Osborne.
      "Michael's brain is like a sponge," said his mother, Ashley Bravo.
      As a student in the gifted program, on star honor roll, and reading on a 6th grade level, Michael's family never knows what he'll come up with next.
      One night Michael voiced his desire to "take some DNA from a lion and mix it with some DNA from a human to make the human's muscles stronger," his grandmother, Martha Mulling recalled. "And I'm going to take some DNA from an owls eyes," he said, "to mix with the DNA of a human's eyes, so humans can see better."
      From gene splicing to his discussion of the evolution of air craft vehicles, there's no doubt Gross's thirst for knowledge will continue to follow him all his life.
      "He doesn't understand why he gets awards for the things he does," said Mulling, "since it just comes natural for him."
Gross simply said, "I love airplanes," and that was the inspiration for his essay.
      He was honored Monday night by the Emanuel County Board of Education for his award-winning essay.
      Gross also finds time to enjoy playing football, baseball, gardening with his dad, and participating in Cub Scouts, where he was chosen as best behaved and encouraging child and won the sportsmanship award in the January Pinewood Derby.
      Gross is the son of Ashley and James Bravo and the grandson of Martha Mulling, John Nesmith, and Dolly and Jim Mengelkoch.
      Gross also has a 2-year-old sister named Dakota, whom he has already taught to read a little and count to 10.
      "We are all in awe of Michael and very proud to be his family," said Mulling.

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