The Rotary Club of Franklin honored the 2014 winners of the annual Read2Me Essay contest on Wednesday.
After receiving nearly 100 entries into this year's contest, winners for each of the three grade divisions were carefully selected by a team of Rotary members who volunteered as judges.
Open to all Macon County children in grades 3-8, the annual essay contest gives children the opportunity to showcase their writing talents.
The first and second place winners received a cash prize from the Rotary Club, as did the classroom teachers of the winners.
The Macon County News teams up with Rotary and Read2Me each year for the essay contest to publish the outstanding work of the students with the first place essays (below).
This year's essay theme was on leadership.
Second place winners were Eliza Tate, grade 3-4, Highlands and Laney Grace Justice, grade 6, MVI. Honorable Mention, Mercedes Ore, grade 4, East Franklin; Catherine Shannon, grade 6, MVI; and Jacob Koch, grade 8, Macon Middle School.
Leaders in Unexpected Places
7th grade, Macon Middle School
Imagine a world without light or sound. To me it would be a very lonely and scary situation to be put in. Ludwig van Beethoven, Helen Keller, and Harriet Tubman had to live in a world like this, but still managed to be successful leaders and were able to give back to the world by making it a better place. Even though these remarkable and astonishing people were blind, deaf, or both, they all still had enough persistence, optimism, and courage to lead and encourage other people.
Persistence is a trait of great leaders. The German musician Ludwig van Beethoven is considered one of the most well recognized composers of some of the most extraordinary pieces of music in history such as “Fur Elise,” “Ode to Joy,” and Beethoven’s “Fifth Symphony.” Beethoven’s talent began when he was forced to learn how to play the piano at an early age by his alcoholic father, but he came to enjoy playing music later in life. By the age of seven, Beethoven had given his first performance, and by the age of 12, he had his first piece of music published, the “Nine Variations in C Minor” for piano. Later in Beethoven’s composing life when he was only 30 years old, he began to go deaf a little at a time until he was completely deaf, but instead of giving up he continued to do what he enjoyed most in life, making music. Surprisingly, the climax of Beethoven’s career was when he was completely deaf, he kept on going. Persistence is why he is such a great leader. Ludwig van Beethoven has motivated and encouraged others through his unrelenting love of music.
Helen Keller is widely known for her optimistic outlook towards her disability and for the inspiration she gave to the world. At the age of two, Helen Keller became deaf and blind because of a sickness called Brain Fever; this gave Helen a disadvantage toward her learning and communication skills. When Helen was six years old, Anne Sullivan was sent from Perkins Institute for the Blind to help Helen with her education and communication skills. Anne stayed with Helen and taught her how to speak, read Braille, and communicate through touch sign language for 50 years. Helen was such a fast learner that she showed a great amount of progress and managed to finish her schooling, including college, and had become a political activist, an educator, an author, and a lecturer. Helen’s lectures were about how she overcame her disability and how she became a successful person in life. If I were both blind and deaf, I would not have the optimism of Helen Keller. I could not get up and go out into the world as if I were just like everybody else. I think Helen Keller has encouraged people to look on the bright side of their problems and inspired them to keep their heads held high.
Harriet Tubman was a courageous African American leader who was born a slave. Harriet was very independent in the way that she stood up for herself and her people, but sometimes standing up to somebody may lead to something bad. When Harriet refused to work in a field, she was hit in the head with a heavy metal weight causing her to lose a lot of her eyesight, but that did not stand in her way of getting her and her peoples’ rights to freedom. Harriet escaped her plantation and traveled the Underground Railroad to the North across the Mason Dixon Line, but right after her arrival she turned back around to help others in her slavery plantation escape to the North, too. Harriet did not stop there, but continued to help the North free slaves by leading them through the Underground Railroad. I think Harriet Tubman is a leader because she did not just go her separate way when she was safely past the slavery, but came back for others. In the end, Harriet Tubman rescued about 1,000 slaves and brought them to freedom. She also continued to help people by inspiring others to have courage and stand up for themselves and one another. I think Harriet Tubman is a leader because she rose up past standards to make her voice heard, and I really respect her for that.
Trying to be a leader in a world without light or sound would be a hard goal to accomplish, but these three people have proven to themselves and others that it can be done. I chose these people because they really did inspire me. I admire them not for their disability but for their desire to overcome and conquer it. I also was inspired for their passion towards their work and how they were so relentless at getting better. Having persistence, courage, and optimism helps a leader strive to do their best and encourages others to do the same.
A Worthy Leader: Teachers With a Cause
6th grade Mountain View Intermediate
Leaders are people that challenge a person to be the best they can be. A leader is a person that uses encouragement to bring out the best in a person, and will pull someone through a difficult phase in life. A leader is someone that takes a person’s weakness and makes it a strength. I met four such people this year. It is my opinion that these four teachers are very worthy leaders because of their confidence, passion for their subjects and their friendliness. It is often said that the best leaders need no recognition. These four teachers, though worthy of a medal, at the end of the day will receive no such prize. What they do get are eager students ready to learn each and every school day.
I am a sixth grader at Mountain View Intermediate School. I am just like every other student in my block because I love my teachers. I am different because of why I love them. My parents think I have dyslexia, but because I have always made good grades I don’t qualify to be tested for this disability. Dyslexia is a learning disability that causes words to look different, and then move off of the page while you are reading. I have trouble with “b’s” and “d’s” when I write. I have trouble reading easy words like “was” and “saw.” I will not say that other teachers have not helped me, but there is something different about the four teachers I have this year. I truly believe these four teachers have gone above an beyond the call of duty and that is why my sixth grade teachers at Mountain view Intermediate School can be called worthy leaders.
My teachers, Mrs. Shatley, Mrs. Watson, Mrs. Castner, and Mrs. Brendle- Fox have taught me to face my problems, not run away from them. They teach me how to follow my dreams, and have influenced me to want to learn all I can from the sixth grade. They make me want to get up and come to school every day. I know when I get to school, I will face the challenges of the learning disability I might have, but I know they will see me through it.
I start my day with Mrs. Shatley, who always has a smile on her face. She teaches social studies. She makes her class fun. She doesn’t just help me, but anyone who asks. She is so kind and soothing when she speaks that I am not afraid to ask for help this year like I was in the past. She stays after shool, to offer tutoring, for those of us, who have not scored so well on the end of grade test in the past. These are the qualities that make Mrs. Shatley a worthy leader.
Next I go to Mrs. Brendle. She is my language arts teacher. This has been my worst and hardest class in the past. This year it is the easiest. She teaches us by breaking everything down piece by piece. She tells me how smart I am. I have never had a teacher tell me how smart I am until this year. She is so proud of me, and makes me feel smart. She is so positive that I want to learn from her. She knows I struggle, and she jumps right in and makes my work less of a struggle, and that is what makes Mrs. Brendle a worthy leader.
Then, I have Math class. Mrs. Watson = Math whiz. Mrs. Watson can be funny and serious at the same time. Mrs. Watson has two loves, math and her students. She is the best Math teacher I have ever had. She is willing and able to help when math gets too tough. Her excitement makes me excited. She tutors students that may need extra help, and I feel as if my grades have improved because of it. That is why Mrs. Watson is a worthy leader.
Finally, there is Mrs. Castner, my science teacher, she involved her student by allowing us to make our own Power Point presentations, which help me. We also do experiments. She is always so calm. If she has ever been frustrated I couldn’t tell. I can tell she loves science. She makes science seem so easy, and she is always helping me get through any difficult science topic. I know it’s her job, but she acts like it is more than that. She tells me “I remind her of her granddaughter, and that I am determined and smart.” That is why Mrs. Castner is a worthy leader.
It was hard to choose one worthy leader when you are surrounded by so many. These teachers are great leaders because they have many ways of teaching. They work hard to make us better students, and better people. I think they need a raise. They could be home with their children or grandchildren, but instead choose to spend 8 hours of their day with us. They are strict, yet loving.
They care about us and what we do with our life. They don’t want us to settle for a job at Mc- Donald’s, but go to college and get a degree. They want us to follow our dreams and make a difference in someone’s life the way they have in mine. Teachers may not have the best jobs, but they are some of the best people. These four teachers have made it possible for me to believe in myself. I may have a learning disability, and I may not, but because of my sixth grade teachers I will from now on be the best student I can be. I know I am smart. They have inspired me to be this way. Ten years from now, they may not remember me, or what they did for me, but I will remember them, and never forget what they pulled me through. That’s why these teachers are worthy leaders. They are the type of leader I want to be someday. Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” And these teachers do that every day without recognition or reward, a small price to pay for happy students, who by their definition qualify them as worthy leaders.
Bullying is a form of Leadership
7th grade, Macon Middle School
When most people think of leadership, they may think of church, or the president, or other types in which the word "leadership" is used in a positive way. However, in my tale, I am going to tell a story of a way leadership is used in one of the most negative ways. Bullying.
My story of leadership comes from a past experience with a certain girl that I will call for namesake purposes, Sally. Now in the beginning, Sally was a nice girl. She was very pretty, very smart, the teachers pet, perfect in every way. At first, she was just a sweet innocent girl, that is, until she realized her power of leading people, and began to use it. I remember how everyone loved her. She was so beautiful and popular and nice. All the lunch ladies gave her a little bit extra food, teachers would come over and randomly hug her, all the kids wanted her to come to their parties. She was the centre of attention. And she knew it. And she most certainly liked it. The spot light was forever on her, and she was making sure that she never stepped out of it, that way no one could step in it.
We were friends at first, er, kind of. Well not really. We were nice to each other sometimes, but others, she would bully me, I would tattle (keep in mind I this was in the grades kindergarten - 5th grade) on her and she would get in trouble. Of course this, leaded to visits for both of us, separate and together, with the schools counselor. But of course since she was so sweet and perfect, she could talk her way out of it and fake the biggest smile and the sweetest apology. I was left to the dust and many, oh so many parent conferences. I didn't like Sally, and Sally obviously didn't like me.
Now to the part about leadership. Little Miss Perfect had her own little army of wanna-be girls that loved her all too much. They talked like her, walked like her, dressed like her, did anything that they possibly could do to have any chance of her approving of them more then any of the other girls. With this little army of fake Sally's, She ultimately ruled the school. Or at least the grade that we were in. She sent her army to pick on those she didn't like. One of them being, unfortunately me. Sally would tell them to not play with me and say that they were not allowed to be my friend. If they talked to me in a nice way, Sally would automatically drop them like they were hot. Thankfully, I was the bigger person and wouldn't let her get above me. However bad she hurt me, I wouldn't let her see.
As we aged on in school, sally lost a little bit of power. Although, she did not lose it all. Leading kids to bully and pick on others. It was such a shame for someone like her to waste all of her precious power on bringing people down. Little Miss Perfect, most popular, cheerleader, bully, yet still perfect to almost every boy and girl in school... Sound familiar? She was the perfect stereotypical mean girl, like the ones in the books and movies.
I thought if I saw her less, the problem would get easier, right? Wrong. She began doing everything in her power to lead people to take me down. She started rumors that could result in social suicide otherwise, calling me names as I walked by, starting gossip, and all possible forms of drama with me, dirty looks, telling people that I was "trying to steal her boyfriend away", and so much more. All this time I have tried my very hardest to remain positive. But sometimes, I can't take it anymore. I wish I could tell her everything I think of her, but I know that would only result in more drama between us. During this whole experience, I've just kept wondering; Why me? Out of all the girls and boys in our school, why did she make me her biggest target? I never quite understood this, and I still ponder it today. Why me? I never wanted to have any of this. Of course, I feel a bit bad for the girl. She could have used her power over people in a good way. If only she could have started a recycling program, fundraiser, anything other then causing people to hurt. The worse part about it, is that she could have so easily don it. Leadership is a very powerful thing. Even though this story isn't on a mass scale compared to other forms of leadership, it still made a difference in my life. And that is, after all, the one that I am living. But however, when people like her try to hurt me, I just remember this: Only people that are below you can bring you down.
Leaders and Bullies – Be the Bigger Person
Genevieve Elle Maddox
4th grade, East Franklin Elementary
Hi I am Genevieve and I am here to teach and tell you how to be the bigger person.
Being the bigger person is a huge part of being a leader. You have to set the example for others. Value your friends and peers so that you don't start a rivalry. If you want to value a good friendship it all has to do with trust. Once you have trust, don't break it. If you do there will be many consequences and you might not be buddies with them ever again! Trust is all about respect and valuing others. For example, if a bully knocks down someone's books in the hall, help them pick up their books and keep going with your day. Just that simple effort could change somebody's life. And don;t forget, being a good leader feels good too.
What to do when being bullied
Lots of people are scared of bullies and don't know that to do when being picked on. Well when you're bullied, here are a few simple ideas:
Standing up to a bully
If you can conserve enough courage then try standing up to a bully right then and there. Act with self esteem but not cockiness. Act sweet and be kind and be the bigger person. But sometimes someone will stand up for you. I remember a time in first grade when I was bullied because I had long hair. It made me feel bad and that I was being bullied in first grade. I was so young but then a girl stood up for me and I looked at her with a whole new perspective. But this just shows there are good hearts, thoughts, and people. It also shows that a couple of sentences can change a whole person's life.
Watch Your Actions
So if you have ever been bullied, then you know it feels bad - right? What if you were the bully? What if you didn't know? A way to keep that from happening is to watch how you talk, move and act towards others. But most of all, watch your words. Just one word can change a person;s entire life. Stand up to bullies by not being a bully.
Different Types of Bullying
There are different types of bullying. One form that has become more common deals with food allergies. Yep, you heard me, food allergies. Why would you bully someone with food allergies? There is no good reason. And now it's becoming dangerous. Bullies have been putting food that people are allergic to on or near them. This can cause very bad illnesses or even death. But as a leader, we can turn this around. We can be the bigger person.
Be a Bigger Person... Be a Better You!