When the Winter Olympics start in Vancouver in mid-February, a Berkeley High School freshman will attend –because of her writing ability, not her athletic prowess.

Jalena Kaene-Lee was one of ten winners of a contest sponsored by the McDonald’s Corporation to send kids to the Olympics and have them write dispatches for their hometown. Kaene-Lee, 14, a freshman at the school’s International Program, won for a poem she wrote exploring the Olympic values of friendship, excellence, and respect.

Kaene-Lee told the Berkeley Jacket that she was “really, really excited” to win the contest, which drew around 800 contestants.

Keane-Lee and her mother will spend five days in Vancouver, attending the opening ceremony on Feb. 12, watching Apolo Anton Ohno in a speed-skating competition, attending other events, meeting Olympic athletes, and hanging out with the other contest winners.

The contest asked kids from the ages of 11 to 14 to submit an online essay that demonstrated Olympic values. Various Olympic athletes judged the contest entries, including gold medal gymnast Shawn Johnson, snowboarder Graham Watanabe, freestyle mogul skier Patrick Deneen, speed skaters Jennifer Rodriguez and J.R. Celski, and basketball players Alonzo Mourning and Dwight Howard.

Here is Kaene-Lee’s winning entry:

Three Things
By Jalena Keane-Lee

80 countries
15 sports
three medals

Three different cultures that you may not see
Interwoven throughout every part of me
China to Ireland and Japan
Make me the person that I am

I am not any one, but all three combined
Who I am is me, not how I’m defined

Three medallions, bronze, silver, and gold
Each with an unknown story waiting to be told

Gold promotes courage, confidence, and power
Respect, that when nurtured can blossom like a flower
Silver, shinning mirror of the soul, who you are
Reflected on all friendships near and far
Brass, brazen bold bronze makes a beautiful sound
It’s excellence forever echoing all around

All three can stand-alone and are still real nice
Together new significance defeats every vice

Respect other cultures and don’t hate
Recognize what each country has to celebrate

China to Ireland and Japan
make me the person that I am
Bronze to Silver and Gold
three medals that will never, ever get old
Excellence to Friendship and Respect
values that we all need to protect

Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...