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PHOENIX -- Happy 102nd birthday, Arizona!

On Feb. 14, 1912, Arizona ceased being a territory and joined the Union. Since then, the state has grown from a sparse population of just 200,000 to over 6.5 million.

"We are a place where anyone can come and enjoy the opportunity to make a better future for their children and grandchildren," said Secretary of State Ken Bennett. "We're a place we can get an education, open and run a business and provide an excellent quality of life for our families as well or better than any other state in the nation," he added.

As part of the Statehood Day celebration, Bennett will announce this year's recipient of the Polly Award, which recognizes an individual or organization that cherishes and contributes to Arizona's rich cultural resources. The award is named after teacher and longtime state legislator Polly Rosenbaum who tirelessly supported libraries, museums, archives and the preservation of Arizona's history.

As part of her legacy, a writing contest has also been established in her name.

The winners of the Arizona Educational Foundation Polly Rosenbaum Writing Contest will also read their essays during the celebration.

The writing contest is open to students in grades 7-12 and this year's topic is "How Can Technology Enhance Your Ability to be a Better Citizen?"

The event will take place Friday at the Arizona State Library in the Historic Senate Chamber, located on the 3rd floor of the Arizona Capitol Museum. This 12 p.m. event annually celebrates the day Arizona became a state in the building that served as both the territorial and state capitol.

Sandra Haros , Reporter

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