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Students share their life lessons

Bainbridge Rotary Club members recently heard about the impact of the Laws of Life essay contest is having on students’ minds and how Bainbridge High School has contributed to the contest’s success.

A program sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of Georgia, Laws of Life has been helping schools, families and communities to focus young people on their values and then publicly recognize them for committing their principles to writing, in the hope that young people will exemplify them, said BHS English teacher Jeanine Halada, who oversees the essay contest locally.

BHS has been participating in the program for four years. This year, out of 1,584 students, 1,167 wrote Laws of Life essays, for a 74 percent school participation rate, Halada said. In fact, BHS contributed 2.6 percent of all the essays submitted statewide.

Halada introduced four BHS students recognized locally for their essays: Austin Spooner, ninth-grade winner; Ashley Ellison, 10th-grade and overall school winner; Allison Webb, 11th-grade winner; and Kayla Hurley, 12th-grade winner.

Ellison wrote her winning essay about her family’s experience in becoming a foster family for an infant girl. Ellison described the excitement and fulfillment that came as her family witnessed the baby’s special “first” moments and cared for her. Although the family ultimately had to relinquish the baby to one of its aunts, Ellison said she coped by thinking on the phrase, “Letting go doesn’t mean giving up, but rather accepting the fact that some things cannot be.”

In her essay, Hurley reflected on a difficult time she experienced after she was punished for mistakes she had made while on “a path of self-destruction.” Suspended from BHS, Hurley found herself at a night-time alternative school. After talking with a classmate who was a foster child and had lost his parents traumatically, Hurley realized she had a lot to be thankful for and began to move away from self-pity and rather, work to learn from her experience.

Webb based her essay around the metaphor of life as a game of cards. After undergoing some difficult childhood experiences, life seemed like it was getting worse for Webb after she had to go live with her aunt. However, Webb came to realize how much her aunt and other relatives loved her and were willing to help her with the trials of being a teenager. Webb’s maxim was, “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”

Spooner’s essay chronicled his time spent as a volunteer for President Barack Obama’s 2008 election campaign. Spooner recalled being contacted by a campaign volunteer, Kira, who helped him form an eager interest in registering voters and spreading the word about Obama’s candidacy. Spooner was upset after learning Obama’s campaign efforts in Georgia were being shifted to Florida because of poll numbers, but he later got a second chance to help the campaign in Tallahassee, with the encouragement of his mother.

The Georgia Laws of Life Web site is http://www.georgialawsoflife.org.