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Heartfelt Writing Translates into Cash Awards for High Schoolers

May 17, 2009 — Scores of students from the territory's four public high schools walked away from presentation ceremonies this weekend carrying cash awards in the Virgin Islands' ninth annual Laws of Life essay contest.
The contest is a character-education program, sponsored by the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation and the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, and is designed to get students thinking about their life values and expressing their thoughts in writing.
In heartfelt essays — some funny, some poignant — students shared their thoughts on a variety of subjects ranging from single parenting, peer pressure and gang violence to maturity and personal responsibility.
The essays were conceived during discussions and instruction in English classes, where teachers guided students through the process and grading the finished products as a writing assignment. The essays, minus the students' names, were then evaluated by a panel of anonymous judges comprised of select members of the community, who judged them primarily on content rather than grammar or form.
Dodson James, St. Croix administrator, welcomed winners from St. Croix Central High School and the Educational Complex at Government House, Christiansted, on Saturday afternoon. St. Thomas students from Charlotte Amalie High School and Ivanna Eudora Kean High School had their turn Sunday when they gathered at St. Peter Great House on St. Thomas.
Prizes, totaling some $15,000, were awarded in each grade level in each school. In addition, more than $6,000 worth of incentive bonuses was awarded to their teachers. First place in each grade is $500, second place $250 and third place $150. Additionally, three students in each grade at each school received honorable mention prizes of $50 each. Teachers of first-, second- and third-place students also received cash awards of $250, $150 and $100, respectively.
The winners in each school:
St. Croix Educational Complex
9th Grade
1st: Laura Oscar
2nd: Lanique Rivera
3rd: Ethan Patrick
Honorable Mention: Janisa Mintas, Makiel Cepeda, Nickya Francois
10th Grade
1st: Carina Felix
Honorable Mention: Deja Hamilton, Hillary Henry, Raynyse Nesbitt
11th Grade
1st: Shelsa Marcel
2nd: Sharifa Renee
3rd: Mendrell Symphorien
Honorable Mention: Denaé Fleming, Chenelle John, Gemel Joseph
12th Grade
1st: Tahyna Jules
2nd: Lennox Mark
3rd: Algenia Maffei
Honorable Mention: Afiya Felix, Edgardo Lopez Jr., Haley Allick
St. Croix Central High School
9th Grade
1st: Gregory Bodley
Honorable Mention: Ashawna Crump, Kimani Jett, Zanya Matthew
10th Grade
1st: Chantel Ible
2nd: N'Quanda Williams
3rd: Shaquille Thomas
Honorable Mention: Shaniffa Christian, De'Naqua Phillip, Bernetta Rodney
11th Grade
1st: Nyal Oscar
2nd: Danalla Kirby
3rd: Dana Felix
Honorable Mention: Dinah-Lee Brewster, Nardjeska Serrant, Kevin Timothy
12th Grade
1st: Maria Ghirawoo
2nd: Aliyah Parris
3rd: Cenika Francis
Honorable Mention: Joilah James, Justin Morris, Curtis Ryner
Ivanna Eudora Kean High School
9th Grade
1st: Brianna Grant
Honorable Mention: Everson Fevrier, Malik Freeman
10th Grade
1st: Jarvon Stout
2nd: Jamella Gordon
3rd: Marcus Stevens
Honorable Mention: Cresta Joseph, Shannia Roach, Romaine Tota
11th Grade
1st: K'nyshau Cameron
2nd: Danella Joseph
3rd: Karlen Talbert
Honorable Mention: Jherome Dias, Erika Donastorg, Ryan Francis
Charlotte Amalie High School
9th Grade
1st Simfoni Nibbs
HM Regine Bazil, Jasmine Lindquist

10th Grade
1st Jeshurun Joseph
HM Lakeisha Malone, Aquisha Peets

11th Grade
1st Krythemer Edmead
2nd Marika Williams
3rd Jalen Gumbs
HM Shaquille Burt, Shawntay Henry, Hasani Lockhart

12th Grade
1st SheRea Delsol
2nd Keshma James
3rd Yerry Balenzuela
HM Jerome Donovan, Chantelle Rivera, Franique Ryan
To read the winning essays click here.
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