GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - Maggie Rosen had been wondering for more than a month what came of that essay contest she entered for a chance to go the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada, in February.
She would politely ask her 7th grade writing teacher, Sonja Heiser, at Glenwood Springs Middle School every few days, and checked her e-mail regularly for any messages.
Little did Rosen know when she and her fellow 7th graders were called for an assembly to start the day Wednesday that it was in her honor.
So it came as a complete surprise when the owners of the local McDonald's restaurant franchise, Paul and Nancy Nelson, along with Ronald McDonald himself, showed up to announce Rosen as one of 10 U.S. McDonald's Champion Kids.
"I'm a little overwhelmed; I didn't expect to find out that way," Rosen said as the big news was still sinking in.
Heiser said it was no small feat to keep the secret from her prize pupil for the last three weeks.
"Maggie has worked so hard on this," Heiser said. "She came in during lunches and worked after school, and really wanted to do a good job. I'm very proud of her."
Rosen, 12, was one of three GSMS students to enter the contest when her teacher passed around the flyers that were sent out by the Nelson's earlier this fall.
"I love the Olympics, and to have an opportunity to go as a student would be such a thrill," Heiser said.
The McDonald's Champion Kids (MCK) contest was open to students ages 11-14 across the U.S. from Sept. 30 through Oct. 30. Rosen entered the contest by submitting a personal essay of 200 words or less and a photo explaining why she should represent the region, and what the Olympic values of friendship, excellence and respect meant to her.
Her entry (which appears along with this story) beat out hundreds of contest entries from other students from across the U.S., included how playing volleyball has made her understand what it means to try her best and be her best, including respecting her opponents.
Rosen, who is the daughter of Mary Beth and Anders Rosen of Glenwood Springs, will be at the Olympic Winter Games for four days in late February, attending events, meeting athletes and other Champion Kids from around the world, and exploring Vancouver.
She will report her personal experiences back to the Glenwood Springs area as a hometown correspondent via the McDonald's website and other venues.
She also gets to take one of her parents, although she said they haven't decided yet whether it will be mom or dad.
The entries were judged by a panel of Olympic athletes including Olympic Gold Medal Gymnast and MCK Ambassador Shawn Johnson, Alpine snowboarder Graham Watanabe, freestyle mogul skier Patrick Deneen, and speed skaters Jennifer Rodriguez and J.R. Celski.
Rosen said figure skating is her favorite event at the Winter Games.
"I like how they do the flips and stuff," she said, adding she looks forward to meeting some of the athletes.
"Everybody has something that inspires them to do what they do, and that's how they got there," she said. "All of the sports are pretty cool in their own way."
Other MCK winners are being announced around the country this week, including one other from Colorado, a 6th grade student at Rocky Top Middle School in Thornton. Other winners named this week are from Georgia, Alabama and California.
The MCK program debuted at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games as part of the company's ongoing commitment to children's well-being.
"The program was created to inspire children to become more physically active and to enable kids from across the globe to travel and experience the Games firsthand," according to a press release.
"We are thrilled to be awarding one of the top 10 MCK spots to a local student right here in Glenwood Springs," said Paul Nelson. "As local owners/operators, my wife and I are always glad to give back to this great community where we live.
"It will be fun to have a McDonald's hometown correspondent at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games and we look forward to hearing from Maggie about her experiences in Vancouver," he said.