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LAWS OF LIFE – CHARLOTTE AMALIE HIGH SCHOOL

12th Grade
1st place: Iambaksye Richardson
Living Creates My Laws
"What is life but the angle of vision? A man is measured by the angel at which he looks at objects." Stated Ralph Emerson. My life has been viewed from so many angles that it in itself lies outside the normal human plane of vision. The "powers that be" only see me as another black teen, a common black man; and how could I forget, they all see me as a Rastafarian! In my life, everyday, every new endeavor is a struggle. Misjudgments and underestimations are just a few of my challenges in life, and if I succumb to them it would be far worse than death. So the question is, "Has life been good to me?" No, it hasn't, life has been harsh, and hard, but I have made life good for myself. I have fought long and hard to change people's perception of me, as well as their perceptions of others like me. I watch expressions change as they hear me speak, I watch eyes grow wide when they see me write, and I watch as heads hurt after hearing my reasoning. Pride in myself, constant struggle, and a will to succeed drives me to show the world that I am not another black person to be placed in the status quo. By following these laws, I feel anyone else could make a change, shock the world, and show everyone that they should never "judge a book by it's cover, it's back page, or it prologue," for that matter.
"Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us." Asserted Jane Austen, and pride in oneself lies in being able to see oneself for who he or she really is and not trying to be what others want. I define pride in oneself as being able to be yourself, let others judge your for who you are and not what they want you to be, being able to try and fail and consequently accept the failure as a learning experience, and being able to be helped when needed. I see myself as a success so why should I let others see me as a failure? Pride is the only thing that at the end of the day I would never give up. It is what defines me and if others can't see that, then they won't even scratch the surface of who I am. There are certain things I cannot do, there are certain things at which I excel, and there are certain things I just attempt. I'm not a quitter, and I can take criticism, provided it's constructive, and I will also take help if it's given. This helps to build upon my pride. With pride in oneself, no one can put you down, and those who try can only help to push you further to your goal. "It takes a struggle to gain success," and if anyone knows about struggle, it is I. It was once said that, "As a black man the door to success is already half way closed," so as a black Rastafarian I have to reopen the doors myself. Life is a constant struggle and struggle always leads to great accomplishment in my life, I have learned that all of my accomplishments would never have been possible if they were not as hard as they were. I can recall, while working on the backdrop for my Introductory Night, that I did not sleep for 2 weeks and when everyone saw that stage prop it left them astounded. I remember the night of the show when I worked and still took part in three acts, and as a matter of fact, I remember giving up sleep to finish this paper. I was told that maybe I should classify struggle as determination, but why? Determination is trying to do it, struggle is having to or forcing yourself to do it to the best of your abilities. Struggle builds character and coupled with pride anyone can be a success, in my book.
The last component that I add to my laws of life would have to be a will to succeed. Success cannot be just taught upon, in order to succeed action must be taken. To quit and knowing when to quit, in my book, are two different things. When you quit even before you had the chance you've given up the will to succeed, and that hurts your pride, if you view pride in the same light as I do. Winning isn't everything and second place gives one some thing to aspire to. The only failure occurs when one does not try. With the will to succeed, it is harder to be disappointed if you lose, you just know to try harder next time. To believe in oneself leads to accomplishments and those accomplishments lead to greater pride in oneself.
Remember, A man is measured by the angle at which he looks at objects, and the way one views himself is far greater than how others view him. Pride is what keeps an individual going, the struggle helps you to gain from the experience, and the will to succeed drives you to the end. These may seem like only a few laws to live by, but they weigh heavily on other actions in everyday life. You must believe in and have pride. Before you can do the same for anyone else, you must be able to help in order to be helped, and to win you must be able to take a loss. My philosophy is "Success by any means necessary," and in order to succeed one must have the will. To conclude let me restate that Pride in oneself, constant struggle, and a will to succeed can drive any person to show the world that he/she will not be placed in the status quo, and in following these laws, he or she will make a change, shock the world, and show everyone that they should never "judge a book by its cover, its back page, or its prologue."
2nd Place – LaToya Tyson
Cast Down, But Not Destroyed
What is life? Life is the physical, mental, and spiritual experiences that constitute existence. Can I say that life has been good to me? Life has thrown me many curve balls, but all in all, it's been good to me. There have been three incidents in my short life that have threatened my existence in this world. The death of my father, a serious operation, and a traumatic sixth grade school year have caused me to define my purpose on earth.
The death of my father had shocked and confused my tender life, but my mother, Sylvia Tyson, has been an angel who rescued me. She has molded me into the person that I am today with the help from the Lord. At the age of eight when my father passed away from kidney problems, I wondered if I will ever be the same again. I isolated myself from others and never said much even to a point I had stopped eating for three days. My mother got me out of that deep depression and told me to move on and keep my head up. I knew she felt what I was going through because she was also grieving, but she stayed strong for us. She became my role model, my father, and my mother. She made many scarifies to make ends meet, after dad left us. She would always put her children before herself and I appreciate her for that. She tries to please her children in every way and makes sure her children succeed. Now I am more matured, I realize the hardship my mother went through, and appreciate her for that. One day I will return all the gratitude that she has shown us. Her love and strength have comforted me when I was in deep sorrow, and I was given hope that one day I will see my father again.
Another incident that threatened my existence but gave me a new perspective on life was my operation. At the age of ten I suffered from appendicitis. At that time I noticed that my abdominal area was causing tremendous pain. Then everything that I ate came back up and I felt like I was paralyzed. Then my mother got worried and took me to the Walk In Clinic. The doctor observed me and only made the matters worst. The medication that he gave me caused my appendix to burst. A doctor noticed what was wrong with me the moment he saw me. He said I had to go through surgery right away. He told us what was the problem and my mother and I got scared. The doctor said he had to operate on me immediately or I can lose my life. As I entered the emergency room I was asking myself if I would ever wake up. I was constantly asking the doctors will I be alive.
When the operation was over and I realized I was alive, I was so happy. At that time I barely could have walked and I could not eat for two days. I also couldn't lie down flat on my back because the poison needed to drain out of my body. I stayed in the hospital for five days then it was time for me to go home. My mother bought a recliner so that I can sleep or sit upright. She cleaned and changed my plaster everyday. Several days later it was time for me to take out my stitches. Apparently, the doctor forgot to remove one staple from inside of me. It later caused my intestine to fall out through the second hole. This situation left my mother and I scared again. I could have died three times because of this one operation, when I received the wrong medication, trying to avoid the poison that remained in my body, and the staple that was left inside of me while I was healing. Therefore, I value every single day of my life.
This final incident threatened the development of a positive self-image and my self esteem, but the intended effect was reversed. During my elementary years I was always being picked on because I was much smaller and younger than the other children. Because of my dark complexion, some students called me "blacky", "ugly" and other names. I felt sad and depressed everyday but never did show it. Everyone hated me including my sixth grade teacher. She complained about the things I wore or how my hair was styled. She told me that I couldn't write and was emphasizing that I wasn't going to make it. There was nothing bad left to say that my teacher didn't tell me. I wished I was anything else but myself. It seems as if everything I did was always a problem to her. There were days that I went home praying to be pretty and smart. Then one day my prayers were answered. From that day I left the sixth grade class, my life changed for the better. From seventh grade to the present, I have the honor roll. The other half that I prayed for came through too. Every day at least two to three people tell me that I am very beautiful and have a lovely complexion. Then on e day I really looked in the mirror and a dark skinned beauty stared back at me. People have mentioned that I should compete in pageants or model. With that encouragement and new confidence, I ran for Miss CAHS Homecoming and won the Miss Upward Bound Pageant.
All of these experiences that I went through taught me valuable lessons. I learned that here is hope even after death and even though we grieve, life must go on. I learned to appreciate a second chance at life, and to let no one despise my youth and cause me to loose sight of my goals. My experiences have defined who I am and have caused me to recognize and appreciate my beauty, inside and out.
3rd Place- Nkosi Thomas
Improving the Quality of Life
In my opinion life is about change, a change for the better. Most people at some point in life would like to change something about themselves. They would like to do something to improve their quality of life. I have found myself in this situation. I look at my life and see that many things that I can do to make myself a better person. There are millions of things keeping many people, (myself notwithstanding) from being perfect. However, there is usually always one thing that sticks out and would make a huge difference in our lives. One thing that I could change about myself to improve my life, is the fact that I procrastinate with any task that I must complete. There are several ways that my life would improve if I stopped procrastinating. Three significant improvements that would occur in my life if I stopped procrastinating are; an improvement in my grades, a reduction of stress, and I would not be penalized for my procrastination.
My grades could be much better if I didn't procrastinate. I would turn in all of my assignments on time, and I wouldn't have to worry about loosing points for handing in work after a scheduled due date. I would make me a much better student. I would have time to do all my work neatly and properly, and I would be able to do everything to the best of my ability. Procrastination is an unnecessary waste of time that just keeps me from achieving my goals. It is a block in the path of life. It makes people think of me as incapable or less capable than I really am.
Procrastinating is the stimulus for most of the stress that in my life. Because I am always trying to rush things off at the last minute, I lose sleep staying up all night trying to write a paper, or I end up worrying about meeting a deadline in time. To have to consistently worry about things that don't have to take place in my life is a serious hindrance to my progression in life. I have the pressure of coming up with ideas all at one moment without time to plan how I can expand and accentuate my thoughts. It leaves my work limited and uncultivated. I can't say everything I want, that might be an important prerequisite to carrying my work to the next level of audience satisfaction.
When I procrastinate, I am penalized in several ways. Some ways are more obvious than others, but I am always penalized. I find myself being punished for my procrastination. I am not always necessarily punished by someone else for my actions, but by a simple and natural consequence of my behavior. For instance, I would be up all night trying to complete a paper in time for a deadline. My punishment would be that I would lose sleep and would go through the next day looking and feeling tired and I would be left without the ability to function efficiently. In an even worse scenario, my teacher would take points away from my grade for missing a deadline. One of the penalties I hate most though is the long talks with my parents about being irresponsible and careless. Them telling me that I have a lot of potential and I'm just sitting and wasting it. That is the hardest part for me because I like to see myself as a talented person who will be successful in all endeavors. Also, most people like others to think well of them, and to have people, especially my parents, telling me how irresponsible and careless I am is very displeasing. I think of all of these consequences, as correctional actions for not doing what I know should be done, which is senseless and easily avoidable.
The effects of procrastination all have a negative impact on my life. It contradicts my goal to make my life as pleasurable as it can be. I feel that I (along with all others) must plan to live my life comfortable, so that in the end I can look back at my life and thank God for giving me the opportunity to have such wonderful experiences. Procrastination encumbers my ability to fully enjoy this life that God has a graciously given me, and I regret the fact that it is one of my biggest downfalls. It is something that I shall work on and something every person should avoid in life.
11th Grade
1st Place – Shaneca Charles
"I do not want that child"
Whether it is through giving a child up for adoption, abortion, or just plain abandonment, every year, hundreds of children suffer because a mother or father decided, "I don not want that child." Unfortunately, I am a part of that group. This essay, this Laws of Life essay, addresses this issue from the point of view that is too many people seem to ignore. Too many times people argue that it is wrong to abandon a child. Yes, this may be true, but too many people forget about the true issue at hand, the effect it will have on the child, and the battle that we have to face alone. I think that the most painful moments where when I grew to realize that I came from a broken family, I began to question my self worth, and then realized that nothing I can do will make it different. Being abandoned by my mom has taught me three important values in my life. I am somebody, I will succeed in life, and I will grow to love even when I am unloved.
I am somebody. I have a purpose, and I have a future. I believe that no matter what your circumstances are, they do not determine who y
ou are, but are rather placed there to make you into the greatest person you can be. Coming from a broken family might cause one to think that they are less than someone else, or that it was their fault, causing lack self-esteem. I was almost at this point, until I realized that, "It was not my fault; it was not because of anything I did." Nevertheless before I came to this revelation, my mind was plagued with the thoughts and questions that badger the minds, "What did I do wrong? Maybe if I were different, she would have loved me." However, I came to become conscious of the fact that I was someone without her being there for me. I now possess that self-confidence that I at one period in my life greatly lacked. My trust in god and my self-confidence has kept me along the years. I know that everyone has their one specific purpose in life, and just because I may not have grown up in the "perfect family," it does not exclude me form the group of people with a purpose. I can look towards my future and be confident that I will succeed.
Booker T. Washington once said, "I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed." I will succeed in life. I have to succeed in life. I have to prove to myself, and to everyone else, that I am, and that I can. Even without my mother. I consider myself to be quite successful. I graduated Valedictorian of my 6th grade class, graduated with from junior high, and I now rank 12 out of my entire junior class. Although my mother has not been their to cherish those once in a lifetime moments of graduations, and awards, and other special occasions with me I have mad it without her. I have an exceedingly promising future. I have the will and the determination along with the help of the Almighty God, which drives me to be someone successful. There are those times when I wish, I really wish that she was there, but I have to accept the fact that she's not. She's only a phone call away, but the phone never rings. It is my mother who is missing out on all these joys. Even without her, I still have my grandmother, she has taken care of may from the time I was a baby, until this very day. She as loved me as thought I was her very own child, brought forth from her womb. I am tremendously grateful to my grandmother for all that she has done, and the role she plays in my life. She has always encouraged me to do my best, to work hard, to call upon the Lord when the problem seems too hard. She had made it her duty to be the mother I didn't have, and I love and treasure her for everything she has done in my life to get me where I am today. I may not have had my biological mother, but I have someone just as good. I will continue to strive for success. No matter what may come my way, I know that I will achieve my goals, and will receive all that I desire.
I am somebody, I will succeed in life, and finally, I will grow to love even when I am unloved. It is in my spirit to love. I believe that the love in my heart is do great; I can love anyone, no matter who they are. I have developed that kind of love from the one seemed to love me the least. My grandmother always says, "Your mother loves you in her own special way, and though it may not seem that so, it is true." I have learned that God wants us to develop in our hearts an agape love. A love that surpasses all circumstances, a love that has no boundaries, no quarrels, but only what it is, pure unconditional love. I have developed that love inside my heart. I love my mother, and though it may seem that the love is not returned, it's ok. I will continue to love her now, and forever. She gave me life; she is still my mother. My grandmother fills the void, so in actuality, I lack nothing. I am happy with who I have. I have a grandmother, a father, and an aunt, and I appreciate them for their support in everything that I do.
What seemed as my most challenging obstacle has now become my most rewarding gift. Romans 8:28 states, "And we know that all things work together for good, to them that love God, and are called according to his purpose." I have learned to trust God and all that he has said. It is this obstacle that has made me into who I am today. It compels me to make the most of life, and to strive hard to accomplish my goals. I would encourage every child who has a parent/parents which said at one time or another, "I Do not want that child," to see this as an opportunity to challenge yourself to come out on top. That is what I am aiming for. With God's help, I have become somebody, I have become successful, and I have learned to love, even when I am unloved.
2nd Place – Janella Davis
"Learning from your environment can make you a better person."
I am a six teen-year-old junior attending the Charlotte Amalie High School. From since I was a little girl, Paul M. Person Garden has always been a home tome. I never realized where I live could cause me to become looked down upon. As a result, I am known to be a "ghetto girl," rather than the person who I really am. My goal in life is to become a Fashion Designer. Because I am from Person Garden, I am looked at as a joke. Besides my peers, some adults look at people from Person Garden as inferior. My surrounding is not that healthy, but my home is full of love. I don't need to live in a big mansion for people to appreciate me. Because of this, I continue to stay focus and aim as high as I can reach. Setting your own standards such as having an open-mind, great determination, and positive influences are three ways you can learn form your environment.
Having an open-mind is one way learning from your environment can make you a better person. If you have an open-mind, you are aware of what is going on around you. In Person Garden, most of the people do drugs. I do not do drugs because drugs were never a part of my life and I intend to deep it that way. As I walk to school every morning, I am frequently encountered by the scent of smoke. I don't look down on these drug users because I don't know anything about them besides the fact that they do drugs. Their use of drugs does not affect me in any way. I know that I am a good person and I want to make a difference in my life. I want to be recognized as an outstanding achiever rather than another P.M.P female. I will prove to those people who doubt my ability to succeed that their words only made me stronger and their jokes expand my mind. Mr. Arthur Ashe once said, "From what we get, we can make a living, what we give, however, make's a life." I may not have a million dollars in my pocket but if I can pass a little bit of knowledge to my neighbors or friends, I know my life is going in the right direction.
My great determination is another reason why; learning from your environment can make you a better person. I am determined to become a Fashion Designer. I plan to go to college and then a fashion institute to achieve this goal. I don't have money to buy the things I want most of the time. That's why I became interested in making and designing my own clothes. I want to be the best that I can be. Mr. Arthur C. Clarke once said, "The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture out a little way past them into the impossible." When I go to college, I will be the first of all my brothers and sisters, who are older than me, to achieve this goal. I am determined to succeed. I won't make the same mistakes my brothers and sisters did, but if it weren't for their mistakes, I would not be so driven for success as I am now. President R. M. Nixon once said, "A man is not finished when he is defeated. He is finished when he quits." I’m not a quitter. I will succeed and will become one of the best Fashion Designers in history.
Keeping positive influences around you is the best way learning from your environment can lead to success. If you have something p
ositive in your life, whether its family, activities, or friends, keep them in your life. It is good to believe in yourself, but when you have someone you love cheer you on, it feels even better. My mother Joyce Hansen, is my number one supporter. She believes in me and she knows I can do whatever I put my mind to. If I had the world, I would give it to her in a heartbeat. I have my hart and I will love her and be there for her in her times of need. My environment is not the best, but my family is the best. Being happy and keeping positive influences around you can and will make you a better person.
Learning from your environment is as simple as listening to the person who is teaching you. If you don't listen, then you will never learn. If you don't observe, then you will never discover. Mr. Winston Churchill once said, "It is good for an uneducated man to read a book of quotations." It will be even greater for an educated person to observe its environment. Observing your environment can teach you things you won't find in a book. It will teach you to not be afraid of making mistakes. It will teach you to give or take a helping hand when in need. It will teach you that positivity comes from the heart. Most of all, your environment will teach you how to become a better person. The time to learn is in your environment. If you have an open-mind, great determination, and positive influences around you, then you can and will succeed.
3rd Place – Michael Toussaint
My Father and I

Fathers play a special role in their children's lives, especially their sons. Fahters have to make sure that they are always there for their sons, be a positive role model, and must show support when needed. My father does exactly these three things and more. Sometimes I wonder where I would be in life if it was not for my father. He is a great role model and has taught me many valuable lessons in life.
My father is a great man, because he is always there for me, he is there when I ask him to be or when I need him the most. Those are just a few things that I like that about him. I remember one time I was being inducted into an organization and of course I asked my father to be there. He was not there at first, but he came a while after. My face brightened with joy when I saw him in the crowd smiling at my accomplishment. There are times where I may have forgotten things at home and he would actually leave his job to go and get them. He may complain at first, due to the fact that I live on the western side of the island, and my father words in the heart of Charlotte Amalie, but after he sees how important it may be, he goes to get it. This run home would take at least 30 minutes depending on traffic. One consequence of taking this run is that my father will not be paid for the time off, meaning that his paycheck will be a bit smaller.
One more quality that my father exhibits perfectly is being a good role model for me. My father is a man who works hard to maintain a well paying job enabling him to take care of his top priority, his family. He makes sure that there is food to eat, electricity for us to use, clothes for me to wear, and he is still married to the woman he was married to originally. My father has practically chiseled out in stone what I should be like as a husband, or better yet a person. He has shown me that I should respect all adults, especially women, even if I don't know them, or if they don't exhibit the same type of respect for me. Another thing that my father has shown me is to always have manners, I really do see my father as a positive role model, and I try to perform all the things that he constantly tries to instill in my character.
It is good to show support to your children. There are many times where I may be feeling down and out and my dad will come to the rescue. When he is finished cheering me up, I feel like a million dollars. If he thinks that something I want to do is a bad idea, he tells me and lets me work things out for myself. If it is a good idea or something for the community, he will be behind of me 100 percent of the way, in turn building my judgement skills. He also shows his support when I choose to do something. No matter the situation, he always makes me proud to be his son, whether or not I made the right choice or not.
In my eyes, my father is the perfect example of what a man should be and for that I love him very much. My father is always there for me, is a great model, and always shows me support. I really wish that there were more fathers like my father, who would spend time with and realize that their sons look up to them for strong leadership. They should also realize that young men are human. I think that if more fathers would take their responsibilities seriously, the world would have a lot more gentlemen.
10th Grade
1st Place – Laverne Francis
A Father-Daughter Relationship
Many daughters have been born into a female single parented home. As a result, they grow up lacking a father-daughter relationship and all it has to offer. A daughter without her father is like a ship without its sail. Just as a sail guides its ship through the rough waters, so in the same way a father guides his daughter. In my opinion the relationship between a father and daughter should be based on unconditional love, forgiveness, and trust.
Trust is an innate blessing given to both father and daughter. It is the foundation of a relationship between the two. I feel trust is important because it is the firm reliance that is used throughout a relationship. Trust is developed from the first time a father holds the hand of his daughter as she takes her first step, to the last time he holds her bike's handles as she pedals her two wheeler. It is carried through her teenage years from her first date, to her prom night. Trust is further developed through her adulthood, from dinner with the fiancé, to her wedding day as the father gives her away. Their relationship is based on trust, in self as well as others.
Furthermore, unconditional love is the perpetual, intense affection and warm feeling the father and daughter have for one another. Their unconditional love is what makes their relationship so replete. It helps them to segue through rough waters, knowing that they will always be there for one another. Unconditional love is valuable because it prepares the daughter for marriage. She learns the qualities of a good man, and determines the difference between lust and love, between physical beauty and spiritual beauty. She understands a man's way of thinking and learns how to cherish him. As a result of their unconditional love, the daughter learns how to easily forgive.
Forgiveness is needed during the struggles of the father and daughter's relationship. Although they both make mistakes, they learn to talk out their disagreements. They refuse to judge one another because they understand that neither of them is impeccable. Forgiveness between a father and a daughter is what causes the relationship to be strong and enduring. It shows that they both love each other enough to forgive and forget. Forgiveness strengthens the relationship because they learn from their mistakes and are willing to give each other another chance. The mistake could never be too abstruse to destroy the trust between father and daughter. Together, they use forgiveness to conquer the indomitable,
In the writhing of this essay I too have learned the importance of a father-daughter relationship. It shows me that a father is capable of more than just the regular parenting skills, but also has the ability of supplying a child with needs beyond their understanding. The relationship a father has with his daughter is like a flower. It starts off small and progresses into something so beautiful and amazing. A relationship like this is everlasting once it is based on unconditional love, forgiveness, and trust.
2nd Place – Cadwell Turnbull
Acceptance
Experiences in life are important because of the people we share them with. Life is unpredi
ctable and so throughout life I've learned that people can never be sure what misfortunes might come in their way. Most people feel misfortune will pass. Death is not like this. What makes death so scary is the fact that it is forever. Death is especially scary when it takes a love one. Death cannot be changed and therefore it is feared. Losing a love one through death is the hardest thing to come to grips with and it becomes the hardest thing to accept. People are hurled into despair because of the loss of their loved ones. This pain associated with loss burns in our hearts and devours our very souls. Our love ones become lost to us, and experiences that are shared with them seem to fade into darkness. Acceptance is a law of life because it takes determination, hard work, and most of all hope. I believe learning to cope with the deaths of family, friends and love ones is the key to living life to the fullest. Losing my father was like losing a piece of myself. I hated the fact that he wouldn't be there to see me grow up and mature to become the person I am. I longed for the missed hugs and kisses, the unsaid words of love and encouragement and the arguments that would've made me realize my love for him. This longing for those things were like a thorn in my side never ceasing to remind me that it was there. That thorn dug a hole inside of me. It removed that piece of me that he held with his love, and replaced it with emptiness. People tend to think of the "what ifs" and forget all the things that were already there. These thoughts forever filled my head. I unknowing forgot all the hugs and kisses, the words of love and encouragement, and the arguments that were left behind that were already given to me in the memories we shared. Those memories made me whole again and they will never be forgotten. Those precious memories are the gateway to finding him and bringing him back to me. This is how I began to bring myself to accept my loss by replacing the bad with the good.
Friends are the people that have the greatest impact on a person's life and so when we lose our friends we lose ourselves. They are no longer here to help us with our decisions, listen to our problems and keep our secrets. Losing them is like losing our personal adviser, problem solver, and that special person that we share our secrets with. Tragedy strikes and loneliness and grief swell inside of us. We feel like no one can understand the pain we are feeling and a dark shadow falls over our lives and it feels like it would never go away. We have lost ourselves and it feels unfair that our friends had to be taken from us so soon. However, remember no matter how dark life can be it can be twice as bright. Don't let this be the end of life; let it be the new beginning of it.
There is no need to explain the feeling of losing someone we love. Matters of the heart easily explain themselves. Our heart becomes that feeling in our gut, the tears on our face, and the thought that life just isn't worth living anymore. Every day after the loss of someone feels like the longest days of our lives. These emotions will not just go away but we must realize that God has more in store for us. The minutes lost will never come back to us but the minutes that remain are ours to use for whatever we wish. Loss makes room for gain. Life is not over yet. Seize what is left of it before it is lost also.
In conclusion, "whatever doesn't kill only makes us stronger." We must make that extra step over the rubble and start building again. Only we as individuals can do this for ourselves. Death around us is preparing us for the future filled with surprises that we will have to face on our own. It takes determination and hard work to start living again and hope in the fact that God will bless us enough to carry on with the rest of our lives. Loss of family, friends and love ones can be severely traumatic but it is our job to get back up again. Think of all the other people who possess love for us and think of the love we possess for them. This will give us the power to move on and accept loss.
3rd Place – Kmisha Counts
Music Industry: an Image to be Reborn
Nothing is more mesmerizing than the sound of an old school "hit". The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, and Aretha Franklin, are only a few examples of those who have taken the music scene by storm. Growing up in music, I couldn't help but become a music lover myself. It was ridiculous how I almost always seemed to be stuck to a piano or radio…but things definitely changed since then. My love for music has always remained strong, but there was a change in the value of music for me. There was a time when music meant love, joy, togetherness, and peace although even at time, it had its provocative side. Now the value of music has deteriorated to the superficial habits of Hollywood. In these day, I turn on my television and witness our music repeated like the sound of a broken record and our highly paid musical artists acting like nothing but puppets with an artificial image and a washed up sense of style. Many could call me an "old spirit" but the hope for the future of music industry based on the Laws of Life such as respect, morality, and integrity. With these Laws of Life as a guide, the music business can quickly regain its substance and become better than it ever was before.
In our music, there is lack of respect for the women that bear our children and raise our men. In response to this predicament, women in the industry disrespect themselves and consider it just. Its unfair and we accept it. Constantly in music videos, I witness women portrayed as mere objects of male sexual desire and materialistic things, spoken about consistently on the same level of importance as the jewelry and the cars. Derogatory or degrading terms to describe women are put into song intended for entertainment, and is society trying to tell us that this is okay? Prominent female artists that promote self-respect keep hope alive for our future, but when will our people: the fans of music take a stand and acknowledge that our women should be treated as the beautiful humane creatures they are.
Lack of morality seems to cause small problems that eventually develop into big issues, whether it is drugs, sex, violence, or materialism. It seems as if our music is crafted by negativity, such as violence, immorality, and materialism, or harmful pleasures such as careless sex and drugs. Our music is focused on things that are not necessary to an everyday life. Wed turn on our television and we see the diamonds, the cars, the house, and the dream, only wishing for these things to soon become ours. As youngsters, we cannot help but look at these people as role models because they possess what is perceived as perfect. A number of professional music artists need to search deep down within themselves to find the truth. Success is not formed by these depravities, but first by peace of mind.
One of the most disturbing issues concerning the music industry is the constant criticism it gets for its history and it present. It's known as a malicious business that can only be beaten by undeniable strength. The constant horror stories continue to be told about successful, and even revolutionary artists such as the Temptations, Franke Limen, Whitney Houston, and Michael Jackson. I want this life and this profession with everything, for the love of music, but they have fallen, and why can't I? The faults of these people and this business all come down to the lack of integrity. Honesty and reliance is so important when it comes to the construction of a strong and trustworthy business. However, it seems like the music industry has none. When I envision the fearful life of a songstress, I envision a life that leaves no doors open with compassion and no one to trust. In a cutthroat business like the music industry, people need to look out for one another. Although selfishness can seem like almost a necessary habit needed in order to survive in this business, consideration for others can teach pr
ofessional to be fair and show integrity to those who side them with two tings in common: the love of music, and the struggle to become a success story.
The music of today and its industry might have its positives and faults, but the love for music will never change in my heart. It has been embedded in my brain when I was a young child that I would become the best, and blaze trails never traveled before. Whenever I turn on the TV or the radio and hear the sound of music that is perceived as good or bad-moral or immoral, it purifies me like a healthy drug in a way that I know I am addicted. I look at the music business's problems, and I shrug, because, what keeps my hope alive is my future. God is giving me a chance to change what evil has tried to create out of something so beautiful. He is giving me the ability to promote good again out of what he has created. The power of music is so undeniable because no matter who we are, it traps us and we love it. It is now our choice to make it wholesome again, and if we try to make a successful business and lifestyle out of the Laws of Life: Respect, Morality, and Integrity, then we have more than enough hope for the future of music and ins Industry.
9th Grade
1st Place – Amber Turnbull
Self-discovery: My Journey of Finding Myself
This is my first year in Charlotte Amalie High School. I came from a small, private school with a little over three hundred students. As I started attending this huge school, I realized how hard it is to be noticed. Also, I realized that your identity and uniqueness could be crushed easily. I started to realize that I had feelings of inferiority. These feelings were strange because I never experienced feelings of self-consciousness on a daily basis. Therefore, I knew I had to do something fast. So, I started a journey of self-discovery to find out exactly whom I am. Through my journey of self-discovery, I wanted to possess the qualities of self-knowledge, self-acceptance, and self-confidence.
First of all, while attending my small, private school, I was mostly know for teasing and bullying. When I look back at those times, I realize that I had that type of personality because I felt I had something to prove. If I knew myself, I wouldn't have to prove anything to anyone. Now, I am beginning to know myself. Therefore, I no longer have to make others feel inferior. I can compliment others to make them feel good about themselves. Although I haven't mastered the art of self-knowledge, I have a general idea of who I am. I am a unique, God-fearing individual with a purpose and plan like everyone else.
Secondly, accepting the things I learned about myself was very hard. All the things I learned weren't pleasing. For example, a friend and I were having a good conversation. We were laughing together and having a good time. Then I noticed that he grew quiet and withdrawn. His next words were, "This is the first time you talked to me without making me feel bad." I felt horrible. His statement really hit me hard. It made me take a lot of things into perspective, especially how I have treated others. Every time I think about what he said I want to cry. Although I cannot change the past, I can plan for the future. My plan for the future is to accept who I am, but change the areas that are not right.
Thirdly, as I walk through the hallways of Charlotte Amalie High School, I have sometimes felt shy and defenseless. I felt as if everyone was watching me and ridiculing what they saw. Soon, I became very self-conscious of my body image. It became so bad that I would sometimes sit down and cry because I did not like the way I look. This is the part of my journey in which I needed self-confidence. I was dodging full-length mirrors because I was not accepting my body image. That type of non- acceptance shows a huge lack of confidence in myself. I feel bad that I made others have a lack of self-confidence, when I didn't even have confidence in myself. Although I still do not have a lot of confidence, I am working on it. I now know that my appearance does not define who I am.
Therefore, the start of my journey has been difficult, but it has also been a blessing. It has allowed me to dig deep inside myself. The result of starting this journey is a better understanding of myself. This understanding comes from the qualities of self-knowledge, self-acceptance, and self-confidence. Through theses qualities, I will not only be a better person, but I will also be myself.
2nd Place – Sekoia Rogers
Give Everyone A Fair Chance
When God put man on the Earth, he made them different. First, there was a man, then a woman. Soon after, there were multitudes of diverse people. Diversity among people is seen in many different ways. Some are tall while others are short. Some are gifted, talented and intelligent, while others are average or the exact opposite. Generally most people are attractive and acceptable to the eyes. However, there are usually those who stand out for one reason or the other. They are the ones who are often misunderstood and prejudged, but no matter what the features or characteristics of people, they are all God's children. These physical things that are visible really don't determine true character. I learned from experience that true beauty goes deep inside of a person, so we should never judge someone by his or her appearance. Everyone should be given a fair chance.
It all began one day when a new kid moved to my neighborhood. He was not ordinary looking. His head appeared as big as a basketball, and his body as wide as a door. He was stared by all, especially for his huge nose and hanging thick lips. This kid was no Denzel Washington. He was teased and laughed a just because of his appearance. The first sight of him made me laugh out loudly. Tears even came to my eyes. It was obvious that he was sad, but no one paid attention to his feelings. He tried to make friends, despite the teasing. He asked to join us at play, but he was shunned and humiliated. He wasn't given a chance to show another side of him. Because of what was seen on the outside, he was condemned.
Although misunderstood, and condemned, this kid demonstrated that beauty comes from within. He came to my rescue on a day when I was facing danger. No one seemed to be around at the time. On my way home from school, a gigantic dog, which resembled a pitbull was coming towards me. I was terribly afraid, so I yelled and screamed for help. The dog kept coming although I yelled and pleaded. No one seemed to hear me, but all of a sudden I heard the sounds of rocks falling. Then I saw some large ones rolling in my direction. The dog screeched when he was hit once and ran away. This was a frightening experience, which open my eyes to the reality of life. I was so thankful of whomever it was that saved me. His size, nor physical features made no difference. In fact I hadn't even notice. Instead I hugged and thanked him for saving me. Suddenly, I realized that this was the same person that I had make fun at. I was so astonished and ashamed. I wanted to crawl under a rock, for although I had treated him with disrespect, he didn't judge me. His actions made me think hard. I hurried home as a brand new person.
The following day, I visited him to apologize and thank him again. I let him know that he was a truly beautiful person, and that I was appreciative of what he had done for me. After accepting my apology, we talked as if we knew each other well. I soon found out that this boy was no different than any of us who had ridiculed him. He was gentle, kind, and thoughtful. He taught me a new lesson-to be nice to others regardless of how they look on the outside.
Thereafter I took on the task of informing and encouraging my friends to be nice, kind, considerate, and thoughtful to everyone. I also expressed that it is wise to treat someone as you would like to be treated. All of a sudden the lessons that my elders tried to teach me became clear and meaningful. From this experience, my number one Law of Life is: "N
ever be critical of someone because of his appearance." Always give everyone a fair chance.
3rd Place – Shanise Rouse
My Personality Development
Throughout the past fourteen years of my life I have met many people that I admired. Above all, there is no one I admire more than my mother. She has taught me many values of which I treasure and often depend upon to meet the difficulties and
challenges of life. However, three of the most valuable lessons she ever taught me were the value of prayer, honesty, and caring for others and myself. Without these three values, in particular, a deep and patient faith in God, I will be powerless to face, the delays and disappointments that inevitable come. Hence prayer, honestly, and caring for others and the values that have contributed to my successes and failures in life and I will cherish them for the rest of my life.
First, good habits can be fine things. If you say your prayers every night there comes a time when they grow more meaningful to you. As a child, I learned to repeat after my mother, "In my little bed I lei Heavenly Father hear my cry. Lord, protect me through this night and keep me safe til' morning light." In the beginning, these words meant nothing to me. However, as I grew older and listened more and more to my mother, I realized that without prayer, all of my efforts are in vain. To ensure that his value was deeply instilled in me, my mother enrolled me in a parochial school for seven years. Prayer has become a part of my everyday life. No matter how busy I may be and no matter how many responsibilities crowd upon me, I never let a day pass without praying. During school I always find a quiet moment to offer a word of prayer. Although I am not a born again Christian, prayer is a value that I cherish. I sincerely believe that I cannot make it without the help of the Being above. It is the underlying principle that leads to my second value.
Secondly, "When is it okay to tell a lie?" My mother and I will respond "at no time." No matter how grave or insignificant the circumstances maybe. As I reflect, I can still hear my mother's words: "one lie leads to another lie until you become a pathological liar". I know it is not always easy to be honest and sometimes it is tempting to be deceitful than being honest. However, I too, realize that while some people resent me for being hones, others develop confidence in me. Moreover my mother and I have developed a close relationship. We expect the truth from each other at all times. As a result, of my mother's teachings I grew up cherishing this value deeply. It gives me a feeling of self-satisfaction and trustworthiness. I utilize this value everyday in school and because of that my friends find me to be very reliable and trust-worthy.
Next, the third valuable lesson my mother ever taught was caring and sharing for others and myself. Over the years, I observed my mother giving money or buying food and/or drinks for the homeless. On many occasions I questioned her about it, wondering what if they use the money for drugs. But she would reply, "That is not for me to worry about, they will have to answer to God. I have done my part." Like my mother, I too have a special place in my heart for not only the homeless, but also anyone who is in need. My peers often refer to me as a "spoiled child" because to them I get whatever I want, but in fact I don't. As far back as I can remember my mother has always told me "Shanise do not beg anybody for anything. Whatever you need you must come to me." So this is what I do. That's why when people ask me for things I can give them because my mother gives me. Furthermore, I am always willing to give a helping hand to those in need whether it is academically or financially. These traits I can attribute to the teachings of none other, but my mother.
Consequently, my mother has contributed greatly to my personal development by instilling in me the three values of prayer, honesty, and caring. These values have contributed to my successes and failures in life. Without them I am powerless to face the delays, disappointments, and vicissitudes that inevitable come. I too can attest to the popular proverb "The apple does not fall far from the tree", because the prayerful, honest and caring person that I am today is a result of my mother's influences upon me.

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