State Senator Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso) invites area fourth-graders along with their principals, teachers and parents to a special birthday party at the Statehouse – one in which the honored 194-year-old guest will receive essays instead of cards.

Charbonneau said an annual essay contest is among the many interesting activities planned to celebrate “Statehood Day.” This year, the celebration is scheduled on Friday, Dec. 10 – a day before the state’s actual birthday. Indiana officially became this nation’s 19th state on Dec. 11, 1816.

Charbonneau said the day’s Statehouse events will begin at 9 a.m. and include interactive activities presented by the offices of the governor and lieutenant governor, legislature, Indiana Supreme Court, state museum, state library, historical bureau, history center and other state agencies. Students will also have an opportunity to visit many executive, legislative and judicial offices.

“This would be a great day to schedule a visit to our historic Statehouse,” Charbonneau said. “Interactive displays, special music and a chance to see Indiana’s original state constitution will be part of the fun. This event will bring Indiana history to life for these students as they study our state’s government and heritage.”

Schools interested in bringing groups to this special day of activities may send an e-mail to Jennifer Hodge, State Capitol Tour Office coordinator, at or call the office at 317-233-5293. School officials are encouraged to make plans soon, because space may be limited.

At noon, the celebration will move to the main floor of the Statehouse for a program featuring words of welcome from government officials, special music, displays of original copies of Indiana’s 1816 and 1851 state constitutions in the Rotunda and the reading of a winning essay entitled “What Indiana Means to Me.”

This essay competition is open to any Indiana 4th grade public, private or home-schooled student and is easy to enter:

n  Essays need to range from 100 to 400 words;

n  They can be handwritten or typed;

n  Entries must include the student’s name, teacher’s or parent’s name, school’s name and contact information, including address and telephone number;

n  Essays should convey what living in the state of Indiana means to the student and highlight things that make the student glad to be a Hoosier; and

n  Essays must be postmarked no later than Monday, Oct. 25.

Judges will choose first-, second- and third-place winners, who will be notified on or about Nov. 24. The first- place winner will be invited to read his or her essay at the Dec. 10 ceremony.

“Statehood Day is a wonderful opportunity for Indiana’s fourth-grade students to celebrate their Hoosier heritage,” said Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett.  “The essay contest gives students a chance to showcase their state knowledge and their writing abilities. I encourage students to participate and look forward to meeting the winners.”

“I hope many fourth-graders in my district will take time to enter and share their thoughts on what Indiana means to them,” Charbonneau said.

Essays should be sent to:

Jennifer Hodge, Coordinator, State Capitol Tour Office

200 W. Washington St., Room 220

Indiana Statehouse

Indianapolis, IN 46204

For more information on the contest, call 317-233-9830.

Additional hands-on Statehood Day activities will be available at the Indiana State Museum. Call Joanna Hahn at 317-232-8293 for information.

Sen. Charbonneau represents Senate District 5, which includes Starke County and portions of Porter, LaPorte, Marshall, Jasper, Pulaski and St. Joseph counties.