Rotary hears Laws of Life finalists

Published 4:46 pm Tuesday, April 21, 2015


The finalists from left to right are: Kayla Williams, Linda Moore, Sarah Michael Farrington and Cameron Williams. — Carolyn Iamon


Four finalists from the 1170 Bainbridge High School students who wrote personal essays for Laws of Life this year came to Rotary this week to tell their stories.

The Georgia Laws of Life Essay contest is conducted by Georgia Rotary Clubs across the state in cooperation with local high schools. It has been a part of Bainbridge High School since 2005. The BHS contest coordinator is English teacher, Jeanine Halada, who has headed the program since it began.

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Since its inception, over 40,500 students statewide have participated in the character education and ethical literacy program. They choose a saying or maxim that illustrates a positive value that relates to a personal experience.

Sarah Michael Farrington was the 10th grade winner and she spoke of how a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt helped her overcome her fears of inadequacy and allowed her to grow. The quote was, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. Do the thing you think you cannot do.”

She told of going away for a three-week camp and being filled with self-doubt and afraid she wouldn’t measure up to all the others. Her roommate, who was a wizard at math, confessed she was fearful of her writing skills.  As the two collaborated on projects, each using the skills they had, they became best friends who fit like puzzle pieces, according to Sarah Michael. She concluded by saying “I learned not to be afraid,” and admitted she would have missed out on new experiences and friendship if she hadn’t been reminded of Eleanor Roosevelt’s saying.

Ninth grade winner Cameron Williams derived her essay from a saying from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “When it is the darkest you can see the stars.”

Cameron gave an emotional presentation about the grief she felt over the death of her grandmother.  She tried to be strong in the final hours of her grandmother’s life, but broke down. All the joy was gone from her life. She has since come to realize her grandmother is not completely gone, as people tell her she is just like her grandmother. “I think of her daily and the many things she taught me,” said Cameron. “She shaped me to what I am today.”

The 12th grade winner was Kayla Williams who had a quote from Mark Twain, “Always do what is right. It will gratify half of mankind and astound the other.” Her character trait was integrity.

In an ever-changing world, it can be a challenge to determine what is right or wrong.

She quoted an oft-repeated question from her mother. “If everyone jumped in the Flint River, would you do it too?”

She recalled a particular time in middle school when all her classmates had cell phones and she wanted one too, but her parents didn’t allow it.

“I came to realize what was important, and to do my best and do it because it is the right thing to do.” She learned that moral values shape her life and she will always do her best. The only person she needs to compete with is herself. “I learned to be myself, regardless of what others think.”

The 11th grade winner and overall school winner was Linda Moore.

Her maxim, “When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” (Marcus Aurelius.)

She wrote about thankfulness and how she learned this lesson one morning of her sophomore year when she received the most shocking phone call of her life.

Her parents had hurried off to their jobs as Linda prepared for school. A hard rainstorm was crashing outside, and as Linda stepped out the door it was not just into a rain storm, but into one of her life’s greatest storms. At that point she received a call telling her that her parents had been in a serious accident. As she regained her senses, she learned her mother was on the way to the hospital to get checked out and her dad was alright and headed home with the tow truck. When he arrived the car was hardly recognizable. “That day I truly realized how lucky I was. …I try to live everyday and take nothing for granted, but every now and again, especially on stormy days, my mind wanders back to that harsh morning and I am overcome with thankfulness for every trivial task I am truly privileged to do.”