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'Laws of Life' 2004 Winners – Charlotte Amalie

Stronger Than Our Weakness: The Human Spirit
By Cadwell Turnbull
Charlotte Amalie High School 11th Grade – First Place

Throughout my life I have searched for purpose. My nature has allowed me to see the things that really matter. I am only one person in this complex world. I am one heartbeat, one moment that will inevitably whither away into ashes. I am only human but humanity is not a disease. It does not cripple me from realizing that my purpose is not to accept the imperfections of being human but to rise above them. I have heard so many times in my life people use humanity for a reason or justification for being the way they are. I can't accept that. There is a greater purpose within the human spirit. It was never intended for us to be ruled by our imperfection. Our will should be stronger than our weakness. I think that love, choice and change are important laws of life because they allow us to break free from the shackles we call being human.
First of all, love is very important to me. It has given me compassion and maturity. It is my guide and my friend. Love is precious and should never be taken for granted. This does not change the fact that we abuse love and we destroy the real meaning that changes into a shallow interpretation of our feelings. We turn our back on love not realizing that it is not the cause of our problems. We hurt each other and so we only have ourselves to blame. Love has been robbed of its sacred meaning, ruined for eternity by the same people who speak its name. Love that is unconditional is a sacred bond between people that should never he broken. We should not prove undeserving of God's special gift. Until we find true meaning within love we will continue to use it erroneously. I know and appreciate love's significance and that should be a goal for all humanity.
Secondly, I would like to talk about choice. Choice is our true liberator. It is symbolic of us being the master of our own destiny. It is the right to create your own path. My choices do not control me. They are the things that I need to do to ensure my future. There should never be a moment where you should not have the power to change your life. You must be willing to accept the consequences for your actions, but they should never imprison you We never appreciate our ability to choose until it's gone. We try to excuse our actions by saying that we can't help it when we know we can. It is all in our fortitude to stand up and make a choice. Our course in life is lit with the choices we make. Only with choice, can we see the path that lies ahead.
Thirdly, change is an important factor of life. It affects every moment of our existence. We are affected by experiences within our lives and those experiences help us to become the people we are. We make changes and adjustments to become better people. We should always be responsible for the changes that happen within ourselves. – We don't always have control over change but we should try to understand the reason why things are changing. Change should be positive thing. It should be the movement of person into a higher place. We have power over the people we become. There is no excuse to let life turn you into someone you don't want to be.
In conclusion, humanity is not a burden or a lifelong disease. It is a quest to find true purpose, to break through your own imperfection. I have always believed that we have the power to rise above what we were, into what we can be. Life is to short and we should never try to justify not living a good life. It is important to cherish the people we love since love is the most precious gift ever given. It is even more important to make choices for ourselves and never allow others to make them for us. We are the masters of our lives and our destinies and as we change and become the people we need to be, we will see everything clearer. We will realize that being human is more than just falling victim to random emotion. It is not just accepting your problems and not doing anything about it. It is being able to be in full control of oneself and being the people we were intended to be. This is the power of the human spirit. These too should be the guiding principles that dictates the laws of life we live by.
The Worst Day of my Life
By Darlene Brooks
Charlotte Amalie High School 10th Grade – First Place

For some people losing a friend, losing trust, or problems with peers may result in the worst day or their lives, but my worst was different. I emphasize with these people because everyone suffers through problems and tragedies. On Mother's Day May 12, 2002, the event that would take place helped me to form my "Law of Life. It began Mother's Day morning when my mother and I prepared the meal that was to be sold that day.
The day was going well and sales were good. Later, the sun began to drift behind the tall hills. My younger sister and I stayed home while my mother talked to friends. She looked forward to our next sale. As my sister and I prepared to join our mother, we heard gunshots. My sister turned to me and looked me directly into my eyes as if she knew something was wrong. I felt the same, but tried to ignore it About two or three minutes later, a few friends from the neighborhood began yelling my name outside my front door, shortly adding that my mother had been shot. I grabbed my sister and began heading down the road. From a few feet away, I could see the ambulance's siren lights blinking. People surrounded the ambulance. While passing, I could hear the overwhelming whispers behind me. As I got closer my tears came faster. I looked over and there standing on the side was my twin brother, he was crying. I went over to him and we cried together. A few minutes later, the ambulance drove off and we followed in another vehicle.
At the hospital, friends, family, and relatives waited for news of my mother's condition. They tried to comfort me and reassure me. As we talked I began to feel better. My brother, whose shirt was filled with tears, finally looked up and asked if I felt nothing. At that moment, I saw a scared, frightened boy. An adult lady friend stood beside him I knew now what had to be said. She softly muttered that my mother passed. I was crying now as I walked out of the hall into a room. The lady came to console and comfort me. My grandmother approached us and asked if we would like to see our mother. Walking toward the bed I could feel my stomach rush to my mouth. I had never seen a dead body. I held her hand and cried more. "This can't be true! My mother can't be dead!" Still holding her hand, I leaned down and kissed her on her cheek while running my fingers through her long black locks. Devastated, I shook my head. I knew it was true, yet I remained in a state of disbelief.
At night, I could not sleep knowing that my mother had died. This went on for days. On Saturday, May 18, 2002, my mother was buried. Before the ceremony, I saw my mother for the last time. As I felt her face with the tips of my fingers, I kissed her on her cheek telling her I loved her. She was so beautiful as I saw her lying in her casket, calm and peaceful as if she were asleep. The ceremony was beautiful from beginning to end. The day my brother and I went back to school it was hard for us to focus, but we were comforted by classmates, teachers, and other adults who gave us their condolences and let us know we were not forgotten.
After my mother' s death, I have said to myself that I wanted to die and there was no reason to live.
I think of my mother everyday and the image of that night replays in my head again and again. I would wake up and feel a dense emptiness inside of me. I know in the midst of this tragedy I must stay strong for my family and me because I know we all hurt. As a result of this, I decided that I to adopt the following as my law of life.
Do not wait until the last minute to express your love, honor, and appreciation to those you care for. You never
know when that missed opportunity may be your last chance to do so.
Three Important Values
By Anson Heskey
Charlotte Amalie High School 9th Grade – First Place

As a modern day teenager, I am often reminded by my parents and the adults around me that I am lucky to be living in an age where I do not have to fetch water from a river, chase goats and sheep as an after school chore and where I have access to computers, televisions, cell phones, game consoles and CD players. My parents take pleasure in recounting for me fascinating stories about their childhood adventures. They hope by so doing to inspire and encourage me with principles and values that will guide me as I grow and mature into manhood. I am therefore confident that my parents will be happy to discover that some of the principles they hold dear have become the basis of my own set of values. This incredible realization came unexpectedly to me as a result of my experience during the illness of my mother. As a result of this experience, I gained three valuable laws of life: I learned not to take anything in life for granted; I learned to appreciate and value family and I learned that I have a valuable contribution to make to the world.
When my mother decided to go to Florida for medical attention, she had no idea that she would be stranded on La Guardia Airport on the morning of the 911 September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. And I had no idea that I would spend the next few days along with my father praying and hoping that she would get to the doctor on time, that the planes would start flying again so that she could get the help she needed before it was too late. After a nightmarish experience on the airport, several days' delay and a 22-hour bus ride from New York to Florida, she finally arrived at the doctor's office; we learned that her condition was so serious that the doctor thought that she should have been dead. I was devastated. I could not imagine life without my mother, but I never had any reason before to think of a world without her. The days that followed were filled with fear and anticipation; fear abut what could happen and anticipation for the day when she could return to fill the empty space in my heart and home. I realized that I always thought she would be around, so I took for granted until this illness made me understand that I should never take anyone or anything in life for granted.
During my mother's absence, my father and I lived abbreviated lives: me staying with my cousin or with a family friend and my father distracted and lonely, eager to join my mother or to have her back home. I spent days at school with a sense of isolation, desolation, unhappiness, and loneliness for my mother. At night my relatives tried to encourage and cheer me up. Although they could not give me what I needed then, I saw how much they cared about me and how much they wanted to help. I learned to appreciate them as important people in my life.
After three months away from home, major surgery and a drastic improvement in her health, my mother returned home much to my relief and delight. However, she has had to return to Florida for checkups and further treatments. This time her trip included me and I felt very useful to accompany her and to be of help where necessary. Her trips to the hospital for treatment were an hour long, bus rides that left her exhausted and often dizzy. I was glad that I could accompany her and be a reliable responsible support system in her time of need. I kept her company, played Scrabble with her, made her laugh, and prayed with her for the seven weeks of an ordeal that taught me much about medical science and love between a mother and son. Through it all she made me understand that I was worth a lot to her and that I had much to contribute to the world. I was responsible, thoughtful, reliable and selfless- according to my mother. "The world, could use a lot more young mean like you," my mother would often say. One can only imagine what this experience did for my maturity and positive self-esteem.
In conclusion, I can now look back at my mother's illness and mark it as a most important juncture in my growth and development. I'm still very protective of my mother. I am still concerned about her welfare and her well being and I hope and pray that we will never have to experience the separation and resulting pain. But the valuable laws of life discerned, not to take anything for granted, to appreciate and value family, and to value my contributions to the world, will serve as guiding principles for my life in the future.

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