Laws of Life Essay Contest Awards Celebration Held at North Caroline High School

By Ashley Winterstein

The Laws of Life are the values and ideals that guide the decisions people make every day. These leading principles may vary for each person based on the experiences that influence their life.

The Annual Laws of Life Essay Contest asks middle and high school students across the mid-shore area of the Eastern Shore to write about the principles that are most important to them. Using the Six Pillars of Character (Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship) as a guide, each student is asked to share personal accounts of the experiences that have shaped their young life.

A record 1346 essays were submitted this year from Caroline, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot Counties. One essay was chosen from each participating school and each student author received recognition for their outstanding work.

Many parents, teachers, faculty, and community members gathered at the Awards Celebration at North Caroline High School on March 28, 2012 to honor these 20 winning authors. Also in the audience to show their support from Queen Anne’s County were Executive Director of the Queen Anne’s County Local Management Board Mike Clark, Character Counts! Coordinator Jacki Carter, and Director of Curriculum and Instruction Roberta Leaverton.

The teachers and principals of the winning students were also invited to attend the Celebration to be recognized for the support they offered these students. Principal Jacquelyn Wilhelm from Centreville Middle School, Principal Conrad Judy from Queen Anne’s County High School, Principal John Schrecongost from Kent Island High School, and Assistant Principal Carrie Mitten from Stevensville Middle School were in the audience that evening. Teachers Patricia Muller from Centreville Middle School, Sharon Murdoch from Sudlersville Middle School, Gretchen Biringer from Queen Anne’s County High School, and Leah Vlahos from Kent Island High School were also in attendance.

Six deserving students from Queen Anne’s County accepted their awards that evening: Sarah Starkey from Centreville Middle School, Audrey DeMaso from Matapeake Middle School, Katrina Schmidt from Sudlersville Middle School, Zachary Stump from Stevensville Middle School, Micaela Gately from Kent Island High School, and Jacob Schmidt from Queen Anne’s County High School.

The essays submitted by these extraordinary students ranged from topics of youth mission trips to experiences with divorce to neighbors who had a special impact on their lives. Their stories covered all six of the Pillars of Character and demonstrated how good character truly is guiding the decisions and lives of young people today.

Zachary Stump, who focused his essay on the ways two very important people in his life – his mother and his neighbor – have demonstrated respect, and Jacob Schmidt, who described the ways he strives to follow the Golden Rule every day, also received Honorable Mention Awards for their remarkable essays.

The guest speaker at the Celebration, Carl Whyte, shared his inspiring story of the track scholarship that brought him to the United States from his native country of Jamaica. Once at the University of Maryland, he completed his degree and currently works as an IT technician. In his “spare” time, he has taught himself to golf and even earned a spot on the television show Big Break on the Golf Channel. His motto that “Proper Prior Planning, Passion, and Preparation Prevents Poor Performance” has helped him achieve his goals and changed his life. He now has his eyes set on participating in the 2016 World Olympics and has begun training already. Whyte’s own stories of ambition, perseverance, and determination served as an excellent role model for the young students in the audience that evening.

The Character Counts! Advisory Council would also like to thank the essay readers from Queen Anne’s County: Jeff Straight, Kathy Easter, Winkie Wilson, Chris Grupenhoff, MaryRuth Meredith, Jennifer Stansbury, Ashley Winterstein, JoanBrooks, and Commissioner Phil Dumenil for taking the time to read and evaluate a portion of the entries. They would also like to thank the teachers for their support of the contest and congratulate this year’s essay winners for their hard work and fantastic essays.

If you would like to read the six winning essays from Queen Anne’s County, please visit for the link!

For more information about the Laws of Life Essay Contest contact Susan Luby at 410-819-0386. For the Character Counts! program in Queen Anne’s County, please contact Jacki Carter at 410-758-6677 or Queen Anne’s County Character Counts! is a part of QAC Community Partnerships for Children and Families, our local management board.