Michael Miller is no stranger to winning the Templeton Laws of Life Essay Competition, and this year, his win at the college level capped a three-win streak. The University of The Bahamas student took home a $1,000 prize.
Miller’s previous wins were in the senior division in 2017, junior division in 2014 and in 2012 he placed second in the primary division. He also received an honorable mention in the video competition in 2018.
Abigail Jones and Ide Thompson were second and third respectively in the college division and were awarded $800 and $600 each. Asia Davis received $300 for her honorable mention.
Also walking away with wins in their respective divisions were St. Augustine’s College student Athneale Rodney in the senior division, who was awarded $700; Summit Academy’s Nadya Edwards, who took home $600 in the junior division; and her schoolmate Joshua Rolle, who was awarded $500 in the primary division. Bishop Michael Eldon School’s William Moss received $400 for fourth; and Kingsway Academy’s Paul Roberts, Windsor School’s Reagan Mackenzie and St. Paul’s Hannah Laing each received $300 tied for fifth. Fifteen students receiving honorable mention received $100 each.
Aquinas College students Demicia Deveaux and Alexae Grant took home the win in the video division and the $1,000 purse.
Rodney was also awarded the Sir John Templeton Memorial Floating Trophy, having produced the top scoring essay, and a tuition/scholarship of $1,000. Edwards and Rolle also received a $1,000 tuition/scholarship.
Queen’s College’s Mahlia Neely and Abegale Daley took home a joint second place prize in the senior division; they were both awarded $600.
St. Augustine’s College students swept the second and third spots in the junior division, with Taylor Adderley coming in second and being awarded a $500 prize; and Craig Simmons and Torii Knowles taking home a joint showing for third and $400 each. St. Augustine’s College’s Caleb Ferguson was fifth and took home $200; Queen’s College’s Danielle Williams was sixth and was awarded $150. Twenty honorable mentions were meted out at $75 each.
St. Cecilia’s School’s Cody Johnson was second in the primary division and was awarded $500, with Summit Academy’s Ariadne Armbrister and Queen’s College’s R’rhea Hanna tied for third, and being awarded $300 each. Kingsway Academy’s Daran Neely and Rishanane Thomas were tied for fifth and took home $150 each. Twenty-two honorable mentions received $50 each.
In the video category, St. Augustine’s College’s Alexandria Rolle was second; she took home a prize of $750. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Academy’s Richgena Sturrup and Dasean Hield tied for third and took home $500 each. R.M. Bailey’s Tiara McCartney, Nicholas Louis, Jarrett Smith and Pierre Jeudi each received $300 for honorable mention.
The goal of the competition is to expose students to the many character-forming laws of life, which Sir John Templeton valued as important. Templeton believed that there exists a set of rules which can make people’s lives happier and successful, if they lived by them. He called the rules the laws of life and believed the rules could come from many sources including religious texts and scientific survey. He often encouraged people to think about their own rules, and pioneered the first Laws of Life Essay Contest to help school-aged children think about the laws which they want to live by.
Student writers expressed their views on the law, specified for the division in which they were entered and how it could be exemplified in their own lives. Students created entries focused on the following laws: collegians – to be upset over what you do not have is to waste what you do have; seniors – you are more defined by what comes out of your mouth than by what goes in; juniors – you get back what you give out; primary – love your neighbor as yourself; and video – it is better to praise than to criticize.
Dr. Andrew Serazin, president, Templeton World Charity Foundation (TWCF), during the recent awards ceremony at the British Colonial Hilton, told students that the laws of love, gratitude and forgiveness and kindness motivate the world just as much as the discoveries of Isaac Newton or Nicolaus Copernicus.
“These laws show us what is truly real as the rays of the morning sun and more than ever, your children will live in a world that has infinite data, unlimited data, some knowledge and even less wisdom,” said Serazin. “This is what the Laws of Life [Competition] is all about – to give courage to see what is real, to judge fact from fiction and to seek truth.”
He encouraged the students to apply the laws of life to help them respond to nasty social media posts and to always remember the laws of love and gratitude and kindness and forgiveness.
“Through these laws we cannot only know more about ourselves but we can know more about our maker and creator,” he said.
The 2019 Templeton Laws of Life Essay Competition attracted 2,700 submissions from public and independent schools throughout the archipelago, nearly 1,000 more than the previous year.
TWCF funded the venture for the 11th consecutive year, with a donation of over $100,000 to defray the costs of this competition.
A joint venture between TWCF and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the competition, global in reach, was the brainchild of Templeton, the late financier and philanthropist, and a resident of Lyford Cay for more than 40 years. The local competition is organized by the Writing Unit of the Department of Education headed by Liesl Wright, with the assistance of the Laws of Life Bahamas Committee which is chaired by Mena Griffiths.
“The quality of work entered was exceptional as always with approximately 500 essays scoring 90 percent and above,” said Wright. “These essays once again demonstrated the capabilities of our students from upper primary school through college to express themselves adequately regarding life’s laws.”
Eighty of the 2,700 essays entered were selected to receive top honors.
Awards were also meted out to teachers (English departments) with the most finalists receiving awards, which went to Shaleatheia Burrows, Woodcock Primary ($100); Gayle Barrow, Sadie Curtis Primary ($100); Dezree Taylor, Stephen Dillet Primary ($100); and Simone Hall-Edwards, Summit Academy ($200). At the junior level were Marlene Benwell, Central Eleuthera High School ($200), and Nicola Weech, Summit Academy ($200). Senior school teachers were Keva Johnson, C.R. Walker High School ($200); Jacqueline Hylton, Queen’s College ($100); Kerron Gaye-Knight, St. Augustine’s College ($100); and Sydney Collie, Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Academy ($100).
School winners also saw the English Department at St. Augustine’s College awarded $1,000 in the senior division; and Summit Academy awarded $1,000 in the junior and primary divisions.
Cash prizes were also doled out to schools with the most finalists. C.R. Walker received $500 in the senior division in the public sector; and Queen’s College and St. Augustine’s College were awarded $250 each in the private sector.
In the junior public division, Central Eleuthera was awarded $500; and Queen’s College and St. Augustine’s College received $250 each in the private school senior division.
In the primary division, Woodcock Primary, Sadie Curtis Primary and Stephen Dillet Primary were awarded $200; and Summit Academy took home $500 in the primary private division.