Marina del Rey Middle School eighth-grader Jacqueline Luna was the first-place winner for grades seven and eight in the Latino Heritage Month Creative Writing Contest at Barnsdall Art Park.

“Every student should learn about the Latino community and the cultural heritage of our great city,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said. “This contest gave students throughout Los Angeles the opportunity to study our history and celebrate the diversity that enriches all Angelenos.”

This year’s competition invited youths at community recreation centers, a juvenile detention camp, and public and private schools to submit essays exploring Latino heritage and the history of the Latino community in Los Angeles.

Entries were judged by a panel of community leaders and members of the Latino Heritage Month steering committee.

Luna was the contest winner for Division I with her essay titled “Mi Tierra Bonita.”

The contest’s first-, second- and third-place winners received savings bonds from competition sponsor Time Warner Cable; Disneyland tickets; books, pens, notepads, wristbands and Rubik’s Cubes from Latino Heritage Month’s title sponsor, The Walt Disney Company; and a Lemony Snicket book from the city’s Community Development Department.

“It is important for students to examine the legacy of their heritage in order to chart the future of their culture,” said Jeffrey Hirsch, president of Time Warner Cable’s Metro L.A. Division.

The competition, officially titled “Time to Write ñ Tiempo Para Escribir,” focused on what symbolizes Latino Los Angeles in the lives of each student.

Schools were also encouraged to use this contest as an opportunity to teach participants of all backgrounds about the city’s deep history and cultural roots.

The Latino Heritage Month Creative Writing Contest is part of a series of events and activities aimed at engaging residents in a celebration of Latino culture and history.