Almost 2,000 public high school students from the U.S. Virgin Islands submitted essays in this year’s Laws of Life contests, and 85 were awarded cash prizes at ceremonies Saturday and Sunday.
Students are asked to write about their personal value systems and how it applies to a variety of topics ranging from the importance of loyalty and courage to the meaning of celebrity and solutions to bullying.
“Some of the essays show tremendous insight, and virtually all of them offer a window to understanding today’s youth,” said one of the judges who evaluated the essays.
Each district has its own panel of judges comprised of a cross section of community activists who volunteer their time to read and score the essays. To ensure their independence, they remain anonymous throughout the process.
Students compete only with other students at their own grade level and at their own school. This year there were entries from all four grades of Ivanna Eudora Kean High Schools and of St. Croix Educational Complex, and from grades 10, 11 and 12 at Charlotte Amalie High School and St. Croix Central High School.
A first place winner receives $500, second place, $250 and third place $150. Three students in each grade at each school receive $50 honorable mention awards. Additionally, participating teachers receive a stipend and those with a student who takes first place receive small cash awards. Prizes this year totalled more than $20,000.
The character-education program is an initiative of The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, which funds it through a grant at the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands in partnership with the territory’s public schools.
The concept of the Laws of Life contest was first developed in the 1980’s by Sir John Templeton, an American-born British investor and philanthropist who died in 2007 at the age of 95. CFVI and the Gruber Foundation introduced the contest to the Virgin Islands in the 2000-2001 school year, starting it as a pilot program at CAHS. Within three years all four of the territory‘s public high schools participated.
Winners from St. Croix were announced at a ceremony Saturday at Government House in Christiansted. The St. Thomas awards were presented at a Sunday event at St. Peter Greathouse.
The winners, by school, were:
I.E. Kean High School
9th Grade: 1st place, Uris George; 2nd, Sandranah Cornelius, 3rd, K’nique Richards; honorable mention: Eboni Burton, Desla Charlery, Ade-sha Harrigan
10th Grade: 1st, Randy Amparo; 2nd, Jonelle Ronan; 3rd, Avril Paul; honorable mention, Alexa Garcia, Quiana Gordon, Franka Riviere
11th Grade: 1st, Rena Innis; 2nd, Ashanie Lockhart; 3rd, D’Neisha Thomas; honorable mention, Stefan Liburd, Ishmell Mutidi, Lynique Registe.
12th grade: 1st, Jarvon Stout; 2nd, Chamara Fahie; 3rd Charles Cypre; honorable mention, Miles Henderson, Rukiyah Lewis, Ramaine Tota.
Charlotte Amalie High School
9th Grade: 1st, Shelia Joseph.
10th Grade: 1st, Sadiyah Ali; 2nd, Lemuel Zamore; 3rd, Malene Liverpool; honorable mention; Cherisma Callwood, Cerelia Donald, Adisha Penn.
11th Grade: 1st, Muta Abiff; 2nd, Joshua Danet; 3rd, Regine Bazil; honorable mention; Oswald Baptiste, Jr., Simfoni Nibbs, Tiffany Richards.
12th Grade: 1st Jhozna Gilbert; 2nd, Jaanai Forbes; 3rd, Diamond Ash; honorable mention: Jeshurn Joseph, Niesha Paul, Shadeia Sheridan.
St. Croix Educational Complex
9th Grade: 1st, Sabrina Jagroo; 2nd, Karrisah Schuster; 3rd, Sonieliz Melendez, honorable mention; Narda Linarez, Evanson Matthew, Jr., Crystal Peter.
10th Grade: 1st, Reneah Guzman; 2nd, Kiara Francis; 3rd, Elishuwon Mitchell; honorable mention; Nakaya Anthony, Kenrick Campbell, Danyel Joseph.
11th Grade: 1st, Julisa Marcel; 2nd, Tanesha St. Brice; 3rd, Sheresia Gumbs; honorable mention; Chenise Felix, Valatina Sanchez, Gerhard Steven, Jr.
12th Grade: 1st, Chenelle Howell; 2nd, Jah-Healla Daniel; 3rd, Bria Fredericks; honorable mention; Jamoi Armstrong, Lenisha Browne, Deshea Gonsalves.
St. Croix Central High School
10th Grade: 1st, Shaher Saker; 2nd, Jessica Wiltshire; 3rd, Tamika Thompson; honorable mention; Richelle Allen, Umoza Abenaki-Nibbs, Elangeni Yabba.
11th Grade: 1st, Chelsey Mills; 2nd, Shamal James; 3rd, Romeo Bergan, Jr.; honorble mention; Marielle Herelle, Augustus Laurencin, Jr., Lyanmarie Rivera.
12th Grade: 1st, Juan Sanes, Jr.; 2nd, Jaileene Rivera; 3rd, Ro-Danna Farrell; honorable mention; Lionel Danielson, Aaron O’Neal, Ariane Ramsundar.