In an effort to promote empathy, thoughtfulness, tolerance and charity in students, the focus of this year’s Templeton World Charity Foundation (TWCF) competition topics will be on the Laws of Life that reinforce these ideals. It is expected that students will draw on their knowledge and experiences related to Category 5 Hurricane Dorian that devastated the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama in essays for the Laws of Life Essay Competition.
Competition will take place across five divisions – primary (grades five through six), junior (grades seven through nine), senior (grades 10 through 12), college (participants must be age 25 or under and registered at a local tertiary institution) and video (secondary students in grades 10 through 12, individually or as a group project).
In addition to cash prizes, each division winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship.
For their essays, students are asked to select one of Sir John Templeton’s laws of life that expresses a key value and/or ideal by which they should live, and explain why the chosen value/ideal is important to the way they live their life by discussing their experiences, lessons learnt and people who served as living examples of their chosen value/ideal.
Laws of life choices for the primary division include: “misfortunes can be blessing”, “great heroes are humble” and “listen to learn”. Essays must be between 250 and 350 words.
Junior division topics include “misfortunes can be blessings”, “the dark of night is not the end of the world” and “where there’s a will there’s a way”. Essays must be between 400 and 550 words.
“Misfortunes can be blessings”, “every ending is a new beginning” and “there’s as much risk in doing nothing as in doing something” comprise the senior division topics for which the word count is 600 to 850 words.
College division topics include “no person was ever honored for what he received, honor has been the reward for what he gave”, “only one thing is more important than learning from experience, and that is not learning from experience” and “wisdom is born of mistakes, confront error and learn”. The senior essay word limit is between 850 and 1,000 words.
For the video division, students are to create a short video using the follow law of life: “you cannot discover new oceans until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore”. The purpose of the video is to demonstrate what the law means and how it factors in everyday life. It is to feature live people, stills, animation…whatever they think best conveys their message. Video entries should be a minimum of 45 seconds and a maximum to two minutes in length.
Submissions are due by January 25, 2020; the prize ceremony will take place June 11, 2020.
Liesl Wright, supervisor of the Writing Unit, said the judges are looking for originality, personal examples drawn from their experience, as well as a discussion of how they would use the law in their life.
The Bahamas competition is a public-private collaboration between the TWCF and the Ministry of Education.
Wenley Fowley, Ministry of Education assistant director of education, said the competition has exceeded all expectations.
“It is a known truth that in The Bahamas, creative writing or student writing has been always been a sustained challenge. And so, this partnership in respect to Laws of Life and the essay writing competition is indeed a godsend.”
Dr. Andrew Serazin, TWCF president, urged teachers and principals to encourage students to apply, and to write essays that reflect on what is important to them. He said the Bahamas Laws of Life Essay Competition is one of his favorite events among the more than 250 projects the foundation supports around the world.
In recognition of the role teachers and schools play in their students’ successes, $1,000 will be presented to the school of each division winner to be used by the English department; a floating trophy is presented to the school with the top-scoring essay; the John Templeton Jr. Memorial Floating Trophy to the school of each division winner; $500 to the public and private school respectively with the highest number of finalists in each division; and $500 to the public and private school teacher respectively with the most entries receiving top scores in each division.
Since 1987, students in communities around the globe have competed for prizes in essay contests based on the Laws of Life in Sir John Templeton’s writings. Starting in 2009, students in The Bahamas have had a contest of their own, presented by the Ministry of Education and the New Providence-based TWCF.
The Laws of Life Essay Contest, according to Templeton, is about offering young people an opportunity to reflect and write about their belief and principles, and then publicly recognizing them for affirming the values by which they want to live. Over the years, the essay contest grew from Templeton’s hometown of Franklin to communities around the world, including The Bahamas.
Students, teachers and parents can find resources related to the 2020 Bahamas Laws of Life Essay Competition at www.bahamaslawsoflife.org.