MORE than 2,100 students from around the Bahamas submitted entries to the 2017 Laws of Life Essay Competition in hopes of garnering recognition for their writing skills, sweetened by one of the generous prizes offered at the four levels of the contest--primary, junior, senior and college.
Participants represented public and private schools in New Providence and the Family Islands including: Grand Bahama, Bimini, Abaco, Eleuthera, Andros, Exuma, San Salvador, Long Island, Ragged Island, Inagua and Acklins.
Launched in 2009, the popular annual event is funded by the Templeton World Charity Foundation Inc (TWCF), under the auspices of the Ministry of Education. The Department of Education's Writing Unit, consisting of Education Officers Liesl Wright, Linda Collie and Annamaria Smith, organises the competition each year, in collaboration with the Templeton World Charity Foundation Inc Committee led by Mena Griffiths and long-time consultant Elma Garraway.
Competition judges were: Pastor Allen Lee, the chief judge, Father Michael Gittens, Patricia Glinton-Meicholas, Pastor Lyall Bethel, Harriet Pratt and Letha Strachan.
This year's essay topics focused on laws associated with gratitude. The over-arching thought was that following the devastation of Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, students would wish to express their thoughts on being grateful. Competition was fierce; among the essays submitted, 350 essays scored 90 per cent and above.
The 2017 winners were: Elise Barnett of the University of The Bahamas, Michael Miller of Genesis Academy, Katherine Venkatagiri of Queen's College and Mila Sands of Queen's College.
The three all won a $1,000 tuition scholarship.
Genesis Academy took home the Dr John Templeton Memorial Floating Trophy as the top scoring essay winner and the English departments of the winners' schools took home a cash prize of $1,000.
Cash prizes ranging from $50 to $1,000 were also awarded to: student finalists, schools with the most finalists, and teachers with the most finalists.
Attended by finalists, representatives of TWCF and a host of educators, family and friends, the awards ceremony was held was on the June 1 at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel. The principal speaker for the evening was Janice Kaplan, author of the New York Times bestseller "The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life." Also speaking was Dr Andrew Serazin, president, TWCF.
Serethea Clarke, deputy director of education in the Ministry of Education, Science & Technology, extended heartfelt thanks to the foundation for its generosity in sponsoring the largest essay competition in the Bahamas.
"We at the Ministry of Education, look forward to a continued partnership with your organisation in focusing students' attention on the virtues of living a good life," Mrs Clarke said to TWCF executives.
Clarke encouraged the students to continue to strive for excellence.
"Essay contestants, I congratulate you for the exceptional work that you have done to produce your essays," she said. "It is my hope that each of you will pursue a life that upholds the law of life that you have written about for this competition. I encourage you to continue to be a part of the generation who will promote an excellent work ethic on a national level. I believe that you will become productive citizens who will contribute to the sustainable development of the Bahamas."
The evening was enlivened by the ever-popular rake n' scrape band of the Gerald Cash Primary School.
The Laws of Life Essay Competition was founded by John Templeton, legendary financier and author of many books on a subject he held dear and promoted widely.