School and grade winners across the state have been announced for the 2020-21 Georgia Laws of Life Essay Contest contest. The Rotary Club of Winder partnered with Apalachee High School for the contest this year.

Audrey Morgan was named the school winner for Apalachee, and Taylor Scott was announced as the 12th grade winner. Honorable mention student writers included Brynna Lehman, Damon Ricketts and Di’Mond Price.

The Rotary Club of Winder has partnered with local high schools on the contest the last five years.

“We so appreciate this opportunity to recognize the excellent students at Apalachee,” said Beth McIntyre, who serves as contest chair for the club. “We couldn’t do it without the help and support of school contest chair Becky Hasty and all of the language arts teachers that participated.”

For the 2020-21 contest, a total of 25,112 students wrote essays across the state. In a “non-pandemic” year, there are around 45,000 essays written, according to a news release.

“We consider this number of essays a great success in such an unusual, stressful year,” said McIntyre, who is also chair of the Georgia Rotary Districts Character Education Program, Inc., the non-profit organization that operates the contest.

Georgia Laws of Life and participating Rotary clubs throughout the state awarded over $17,000 in cash prizes. Awards go to 135 school winners and grade winners from 48 high schools. Additional students receive honorable mention recognition.

Throughout the spring, winning students will read their essays for audiences at local and district-wide Rotary Club meetings. Georgia Laws of Life will also feature winning students in social media.

See https://www.facebook.com/georgialawsoflife/ for examples of students reading their essays.

Rotary Club members volunteer to read and judge essays, serve on the contest’s board of directors, and “volunteer their professional expertise to help build character and ethical literacy among students,” leaders said.

“The essay contest is an opportunity for Rotary clubs to share their ‘Service Above Self’ motto with local students and schools,” said Carol Gray, executive director for Georgia Laws of Life.

Since 1999, the Georgia Laws of Life Essay Contest has impacted over 750,000 students. Inspired by the power of simple quotes, or Laws of Life, Sir John Templeton established the writing competition in the 1970s to encourage young people to embrace the wisdom of these sayings, which he believed when followed helps everyone live their best lives, according to the release. In their essays, students use a law to reflect on values that mean the most to them — values such as generosity, courage, perseverance, honesty, integrity and compassion. Teachers at participating Georgia schools select the best work from among their students to enter in the contest.

The Georgia Laws of Life Essay Contest is made possible through the support of local Rotary Clubs, individual donors, corporations and a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

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