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“This Place Matters” 2023 Student Essay Contest Winners

Today, the South Dakota State Historic Preservation Office announced the winners of the annual “This Place Matters” 4th Grade Student Essay Contest, which was hosted earlier this year.

Esther Kuester from Creekside Elementary, Spearfish, won first place for her essay titled “The Power of the Friendship Tower.” Hatlynn Harvey from Interior Elementary, Interior, won second place for her essay titled “This School Matters,” and Jace Smith from Doland Elementary, Doland, won third place for his essay titled “Preserving the Smith Family Farm for the Second Century.” All three essays can be read at

Fourth graders from across South Dakota were asked to write an essay on a place in South Dakota at least 50 years old and describe why it matters, what it means to them, and why it should be preserved. Essays were judged on quality of writing, content and theme, and originality of thought. The State Historic Preservation Office received 209 essays from 26 different schools and two homeschools.

Information for next year’s contest will be available in early spring 2024.

For more information on this annual celebration or other historic preservation programs, contact the State Historic Preservation Office at (605) 773-3458, e-mail, or website: