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Sierra Ferguson pens winning Laws of Life essay

Explores the topic, ‘Every ending is a new beginning’

Every ending is a new beginning. According to Sierra Ferguson, it allows new opportunities, relationships and growth.

Ferguson, 17, a 2020 graduate of Aquinas College, explored the topic “Every ending is a new beginning” and the words she penned earned her the top score in the senior division and claim of the overall title in the 2020 Laws of Life Essay Competition. She carted off the Sir John Templeton Memorial Floating Trophy and won a $1,000 scholarship and $1,000 for her school.

In her essay, Ferguson wrote that old relationships have to be dissolved to create stronger, more beneficial bonds.

“Endings are the beginning of growth. Every ending is a new beginning. In order for us to spread our wings and become beautiful – just like the butterfly, different stages of our lives must end to experience the final product that God has designed us to become. It is known that every story has an ending, but life does not. Even after life on earth has come to an end, through our faith in Christ, we are promised the gift of eternal life with him in heaven.”

Quoting poet, essayist, publisher and playwright Thomas Stearns Eliot, who said, “What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from,” – Ferguson wrote that people face many endings daily.

“We end days, then eventually weeks, months and even years. We have no worries, however, because we believe that there is a new day, week, month and year that is waiting for us.”

She noted that the late Sir John Templeton was a pioneer in both financial investments and philanthropy, and spent his life encouraging open-mindedness. And in his book “Discovering the Laws of Life”, Templeton describes that endings are inevitable. But that endings do not necessarily mean conclusion, but the beginning of something new.

“Every ending is a new beginning because it allows new opportunities, relationships and growth.”

Following the devastation on Abaco and Grand Bahama in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, this year’s competition focused on laws that espoused empathy, care, understanding and appreciation for what the country has experienced, according to Liesl Wright, Laws of Life committee member.

Students – college, senior, junior and primary – as well as video entries were required to select a law, expound upon its meaning and offer real-life and personal examples of the law in action.

Some of the laws selected were: “Misfortunes can be blessings”, “Great heroes are humble”, “Listen to learn”, “Where there’s a will there’s a way” and “Every ending is a new beginning”.

In her essay, Ferguson referenced the catastrophic Hurricane Dorian, which devastated Abaco and Grand Bahama in September 2019. She said while it was a strong storm, the courage, hope and faith of the Bahamian people were stronger.

“When the storm departed, and the golden rays of sunshine broke through the horizon, illuminating the tranquil sea, the victims that had miraculously survived stood, overlooking the lifeless bodies and destruction left behind. Although they had lost almost everything, they still felt that they were blessed with the gift of life for which they were undoubtedly grateful. God had spared their lives and allowed them to witness another day,” she wrote.

The Aquinas College student also noted that prior to the storm she had become “friends” with a peer from Abaco via social media. She said the storm forced the friend and her family to relocate to New Providence after their home was damaged. Ferguson wrote that the unexpected move opened the door to new and improved jobs, schools, housing and even relationships.

“For them, it was an ending to an even greater beginning.”

Ferguson further wrote that every ending she has experienced in her life was because God had an even greater blessing in store for her. And that if her life had never been filled with endings and changes, she would not be the person she is, and in the position she’s currently in.

“During the course of my life, many things have ended, including relationships and friendships. Although these endings were excruciatingly painful, these endings were necessary to receive gifts from God.”

She recalled her transition from primary school to high school and losing her childhood best friend in the process. The friend did not die. She said her connection to her was lost the day they parted ways. But that she still thinks of her, and hopes that she thinks of her sometimes as well.

“The end of our friendship was not entirely negative because it taught me several things about life, myself and building relationships with people. I learned that life gives and it takes, that I’m stronger than I thought and that people come and go. I did not lose her because I stopped caring about her, rather, she was not meant to join me when God elevated my life.”

Ferguson said Templeton explained it best in his book, that change is necessary in order to experience growth, using the analogy of a butterfly and its metamorphosis. She wrote the stages of the experience can be related to the various aspects of life.

“First the tiny egg of potential, then the tireless caterpillar working toward that potential, then the chrysalis allowing that potential to take shape and finally the butterfly who realizes that potential and takes flight.”

She described the late Myles Munroe as a noteworthy Bahamian “butterfly” who started out his life as an impoverished youth living in Bain Town, and who, at the age of 13, discovered his true self.

“After being insulted by his teacher who called him several names such as ‘black monkey’, he was disturbed and couldn’t sleep until his mother showed him a Bible passage which he believed opened up a new page of his life. Dr. Myles Munroe experienced an admirable transformation, becoming a highly adored pastor, preacher, teacher, best-selling author and motivational speaker who traveled around the world. The butterfly teaches us that it is not possible to go from egg to butterfly without the stages in between. And in our lives, we cannot go from birth to death without the journey.”

Individual division winners in the primary, junior, college as well as video categories also each received a $1,000 scholarship prize as well as a $1,000 for their school.

Shaniah Johnson was the college division winner.

Marcia Pritchard, a student at Aquinas College, won the junior division.

Gregory Pinto, a student at Summit Academy, won the primary division.

The video division was won by the team of Zion Virgil and Joseth Knowles, students at Aquinas College.

There were approximately 3,000 entries across the five divisions for this year’s competition.

Dr. Andrew Serazin, president of the Templeton World Charity Foundation, told participants that the Laws of Life are what really matter during these challenging times.

“The laws give us the courage to see what is real, to judge fact from fiction and to see truth no matter where we find ourselves,” said Serazin.

Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd expressed his approval of the original intent of the competition.

“I believed Sir John also developed this Laws of Life Competition to cultivate the critical thinking and problem-solving skills of our students. I am particularly pleased with the diversity of topics, all which called for students to interpret, investigate, research and arise at conclusions,” he said.

The Laws of Life Essay and Video competition is a joint venture between the Templeton World Charity Foundation and the Ministry of Education. The competition is in its 12th year since its resurgence in 2009. It is organized by the Writing Unit of the Department of Education along with the Laws of Life Committee.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the awards ceremony was held virtually on Thursday, September 10.

The top finalists in each division were selected and invited to tune in via Zoom for the announcement of the grand prize winners in each division.

LAWS OF LIFE ESSAY AND VIDEO COMPETITION RESULTS

OVERALL WINNER

Sierra Ferguson

COLLEGE DIVISION (top three)

Shaniah Johnson

Keishanna Palmer

Treniesha Edgecombe

SENIOR DIVISION (top three)

Sierra Ferguson, Aquinas College, Sir John Templeton Memorial Floating Trophy winner

Kilia Strachan, St. Augustine’s College

Melusa Jean, R.M. Bailey Senior School

JUNIOR DIVISION (top three)

Marcia Pritchard, Aquinas College

Donald L. Saunders, St. John’s College

Gabriele Cappello, Tambearly

PRIMARY DIVISION (top three)

Gregory Pinto, Summit Academy, and Kaylee Ferguson, Kingsway Academy, in two-way tie for first

McKhaln Pinder, Emily Petty Primary School

VIDEO WINNERS (top three)

Zion Virgil and Joseth Knowles, Aquinas College

Tiffany Rutherford, Katlyn Rolle, Allison Moss, Kevin Swaby and Kemar Swaby, Kingsway Academy

Jhadyn Brown, St. Augustine’s College 

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