Addison Levy of Fairlawn has been selected as the winner of this year’s Pulaski County Proud Scholarship Essay Contest.
The Pulaski County Proud campaign seeks to convey pride in the Pulaski County community while encouraging a standard of excellence among all of its citizens.
Those entering the contest to win the scholarship wrote essays in which they explain why they are proud to be from Pulaski County.
Levy’s essay was selected as the contest winner. Her essay follows:
If I had to choose one thing to praise Dolly Parton on, it would be her love for her hometown. It is a type of pride that doesn’t seem to be as popular as it used to be. I’m very thankful that I have grown up in an area that I can be proud of like Dolly.
I have lived in Pulaski County my entire life, and would not change it for a moment. Thanks to such a culturally rich area, I have had experiences throughout my life that I know for certain I can credit back to my amazing county. These opportunities have shaped what l want to do in my life and how I want to live.
When I was young, like most of us, I was unaware how blessed I was to call this county my home. I was fortunate enough to grow up with spaces that I could run around and discover nature for myself. Not only did I have the opportunity to get outside and explore, I had almost any kind of experience you could ask for. Want to go tube on the river? It is 5 minutes away. Want to learn how to paddle board? Head to the lake down the road. Love to hike? We are right in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains, there are trails everywhere! There are very few areas I know that are so beautifully positioned that offer so many activities to any age.
This factor played heavily into my life growing up and now. I believe it is important for a community to become active in what it’s county has to offer.
Besides the outdoor advantages to Pulaski County, there are many other opportunities to get involved with or attend. Pulaski has a very rich heritage in Appalachian Music, and does very well embracing it. I grew up around people who had seen the beauty in traditional music, and made it part of their lives. Seeing all of this encouraged me to pursue it as well. I started singing and playing bluegrass at 10 years old. My first band named Gravel Road played around our area of Southwest Virginia. As a young girl, it was awesome to play in my home county, and see my community supporting me in something that not only represented me as a musician, but represented our area history. At 15, that band ended and I went to form my newest band, Gate 10. We named it after a road in Pulaski County, and are proud to show it off wherever we go. This band has been even more welcomed in Pulaski County than I ever could have hoped, and we have tried to support our community by playing for it as much as possible. I am beyond thankful to have a community that has supported my efforts like no other.
I believe that Pulaski County is truly brought together by music. Whether it is with bluegrass bands, the bluegrass jam in downtown Pulaski, festivals put on like the Rhythms and Ribs festival and Music and Merchants, or Pulaski County’s newest addition, the JAM Program. This program, Junior Appalachian Musicians, is based currently in our middle schools. It is an after-school music program that students can attend and not only learn an instrument of their choice, but listen to the guests that come in and share what a culturally strong area this is. The students could choose between banjo, guitar, or fiddle, and we are looking to expand the program next year. I was blessed to become an instructor this year, and it was a dream come true. I had always wished that I had grown up with JAM in our county, and now the next generation of musicians have a wonderful outlet they can get invested in, and be proud of their area.
As I look around my county, I know that I have been blessed to grow up here. It has so much to offer to everyone. I know as the years continue on, it will continue to provide for the people that live here. I am extremely excited to see where Pulaski County will be in 15 years. I think I now understand why Dolly is so invested in her home. She understands that you can trace your life’s path back to your roots, and roots are the most important part of a tree.