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Laws of Life

Essay Contest

Made possible by a grant from The School for Ethical Education

The Laws of Life essay contest encourages middle school and high school students to reflect and write about a core value that means the most to them – and why.

Scroll Down to Read Our
2024 Most Compelling Essays!

OUR 2024 HONOREES

We are pleased to highlight six students whose essays were judged “Most Compelling.”
We invite you to read their inspiring work.

Julian Marius Hermanos

Grade 4
Southville International School and Colleges
Las Piñas City, Philippines

Julian’s essay: The First Lesson I Ever Learned Was to Never Give Up

Aishi Roy

Grade 6
Rose Hill Middle School
Redmond, Washington

Aishi’s essay: The Wonder of Being Kind

Maggie Hou

Grade 7
Valley View Middle School
Snohomish, Washington

Maggie’s essay: Optimism – The Key to Success

Kathleen Frey

Grade 8
Our Lady of Good Counsel Home School
Modesto, California

Kathleen’s essay: Hard Work Pays Off

We also celebrate these Exemplary Essays:

Students from the U.S.A.

Grades 4 – 6

Braelynn Blair
Grade 6
Old High Middle School
Bentonville, AR
Courage:  The Core Value That Drives Me Forward

Brooklyn Cunningham
Grade 5
Wolcott Street School
LeRoy, NY

The Importance of Gratitude

Pace Labuda
Grade 5
Lynnwood Elementary School
Schenectady, NY
Perseverance: A Young Athlete’s Story

Shanae Mills
Grade 4
Ad Prima Charter School-Overbrook
Philadelphia, PA

Kindness Is The Key

Samanvitha Swaminathan
Grade 4
Fulton Science Academy
Alpharetta, GA

Generosity

Elisha Williams Trevizo
Grade 6
Angevine Middle School
Lafayette, CO

Time Management for Healthy Living

Grades 7 – 8

Manasvi Dokiparthi
Grade 7
Fulton Science Academy
Alpharetta, GA
Guardians of Character: The Value of Authenticity

Rebekah Goodman
Grade 8
Henderson Middle School
Jackson, GA
Responsibility

D’Angelo Hernandez
Grade 7
Gulfview Middle School
Naples, FL
Perseverance: The Light in the Dark Path

Avik Roy
Grade 8
Rose Hill Middle School
Redmond, WA

The Relationship Between Discipline and Success

Claire You
Grade 8
Thomas Jefferson Middle School
Fair Lawn, NJ

Courage: The Cause of Metamorphosis in the World

Grades 9 – 12

Natalie Eibeck
Grade 9
Pen Argyl High School
Pen Argyl, PA
The Power of Love

Daniel Jackson
Grade 10
Flower Mound High School
Flower Mound, TX
Understanding Begins With Gratitude

Heather Korth
Grade 11
Clear Lake High School
Houston, TX
No Matter What Heather I Am

Gracie Sacks
Grade 10
Golda Och Academy
West Orange, NJ
The Most Important Thing?  Showing Up

Nathan Schwartz
Grade 11
Newark Academy
Livingston, NJ
Selflessness is Human Nature

Natalie Yung
Grade 11
Trinity School
New York, NY
To Listen Is To Love

Students Outside the U.S.A.

Grades 4 – 6

Maria Ana
Grade 6
International Computer High School of Bucharest Bucharest, Romania
The Superheros of Friendship: Loyalty & Trustworthiness

Mihrimah Balikci
Grade 4
Nile Academy
Ontario, Canada
Empathy

Audrey Javier
Grade 4
Southville International School & Colleges 
Las Piñas City, Philippines
Shine But Stay Grounded: Why Humility Matters

Jacob Liu
Grade 4
Ivanhoe Grammar School – 
Victoria, Australia
Embracing Courageous Acts

Cristian Rotaru
Grade 6
Școală Gimnazială Internațională Spectrum Ploiești
Prahova, Romania
The Power of Hard Work

Bermet Tilenbaeva
Grade 6
Akyltai Primary School
Chuy, Kyrgyzstan
The Importance of Self-Discipline in Achieving Success

Grades 7 – 8

Dalal Altanji
Grade 7
Spectrum School Constanta
Constanta, Romania
Tolerance Against Racism

Daria Ana Niță
Grade 7
International Computer High School Bucharest
Bucharest, Romania
Self-trust, the Foundation of Life

Miguel Dos Santos Pereira
Grade 8
CEL Intercultural School
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
A Lesson of Empathy

Ingrid Durla
Grade 7
International Computer High School Bucharest
Bucharest, Romania
Integrity: The Guiding Light in a Complex World

Nyayang Manyal Ding
Grade 8
F. W. Begley
Ontario, Canada
From Walls to Trust

Bruna Pagiato Bovolenta
Grade 8
Colégio Petrópolis
São Paulo, Brazil
The Game of Honesty

Ella Surka
Grade 7
Ivanhoe Grammar School
Victoria, Australia
Being Balanced

Grades 9 – 12

Danah Al Bahar
Grade 11
Al Bayan Bilingual School
Hawally, Kuwait
Kindness Matters

Júlia Depizol
Grade 11
Colégio Petrópolis
São Paulo, Brazil
I Swear It Was Not My Fault

Chrisma Fabin
Grade 12
International Community School
Ashanti, Ghana
Dear Grandchildren

Bridget Nyhira Osei-Buifu
Grade 12
Sunyani Senior High School
Sunyani, Ghana
Integrity: A Core Value for Life

Nuriye Dilara Selcuk
Grade 10
Nile Academy
Ontario, Canada
Open-Mindedness: An Asset for Our Future

Daenielle Tuico
Grade 11
Southville International School & Colleges 
Las Piñas City, Philippines
Daring to be Different

Congratulations to the Writers

from These Participating Schools

Schools with 5 or more submissions

FAQ’s FOR TEACHERS

When Is The Next Submission Deadline?

Email wendy@character.org for 2025 contest information.

Do All Essay Writers Get Recognized?

All essay writers will be recognized by Character.org with a personalized, printable certificate sent to the the student email address provided on the essay submission form.

The Most Compelling entries will be recognized in the following categories:

Worldwide
• 3 essays from students in Grades 4 – 8
• 3 essays from students in Grades 9 – 12

Students whose essays are selected as Most Compelling Worldwide will each receive a $100.00 cash prize and $100.00 donated on their behalf to the charity of their choice. In addition, their essays will be featured on the Character.org website and on our social media channels.

Students from Schools Within the United States
• 5 essays from students in Grades 4 – 8
• 5 essays from students in Grades 9 – 12

Students from Schools Outside the United States
• 5 essays from students in Grades 4 – 8
• 5 essays from students in Grades 9 – 12

Students whose essays are selected as Most Compelling from Schools Within the United States and Schools Outside of the United States will have their essays featured on the Character.org
website and on our social media channels.

Participating Schools
• 1 essay from each participating school

The student whose essay was selected as Most Compelling from each Participating School will have their essay featured on the Character.org website.

The Laws of Life Writing Program is made possible through a grant from The School for Ethical Education

 

What Are The Judges Looking For In The Essays They Read?

Here’s what we hope you will share with your students:

#1 – Content (70%)
When thinking about what core value to write about, we encourage you to write “from your heart.” The most inspiring essays either pluck the reader’s heartstrings or make the reader think.
● Your essay should be so authentic that the judge right away will feel that no one else but you could have written it.
● Finally, your essay should inspire the reader to think: Shouldn’t I practice this core value wherever I go and whatever I do in life?

#2 – Structure (20%)
Your essay should be easy to read. The reader can tell exactly what you were trying to communicate. The ideas and paragraphs flow smoothly.

#3 – Grammar and Spelling (10%)
Please edit your essay for grammar and spelling.

What Are The Benefits of Writing a Laws of Life Essay?

● Motivates students to reflect and “write from the heart” to produce excellent narratives

● Highlights these core values as aspirational goals to share with peers,​ teachers, parents, and others

● Encourages students of all writing abilities to participate

● Integrates the writing process with effective character education

● Provides schools a positive opportunity to recognize students’ values and promote community

● Prepares students for the writing process on standardized assessments

What Are Some Great Writing Prompts?

The following writing prompts help students in a pre-writing phase to identify their topic for a Laws of Life essay. At the heart of this writing program is the student’s reflection on why the core value they have chosen is foundational to them and to their personal experience – writing from the heart.

Here are some great writing prompts:

● ​Think of a family member or a friend whom you admire. What core value does that person demonstrate?

● Describe a personal experience that has helped you develop a particular core value.

● Describe a time in your life when someone has helped you. How has this made you aware of a particular core value?

● What is one core value that you would like to develop to become a better person?

● When you become a parent, what one core value will you teach your children?

● Imagine that you have lived a long and meaningful life. As you look back on your life, what is it that you are most proud of? What core value did you demonstrate?

● Describe the character of a positive role model in history or literature and how one core value helped them to be successful.

Whatever the writing catalyst may be, the greatest benefit of the Laws of Life process is realized when students have the opportunity to engage in the full writing process (outlining, drafting, peer/family review, editing, publishing).

Wendy Horbinski

Wendy Horbinski

Laws Of Life Coordinator

 

I hope you will reach out to me with any questions about our Laws of Life writing program. I can be reached at wendy@character.org.