06/23/06 — Winners of abstinence essay contest named

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Winners of abstinence essay contest named

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 23, 2006 1:45 PM

Three teenagers were named the winners of the Wayne County Health Department's fourth annual abstinence essay contest this week.

More than 125 essays were submitted, nearly twice as many as last year, said health educator Kristin Tri, who announced the winners at the Wednesday meeting of the county Board of Health. The board decided on creating the prize money last year after being impressed by the submissions. Health Education Supervisor Carolyn King thanked board member Donna Edmundson for suggesting the creation of prize money to go to the winners.

"That was her vision and we want to thank her for that," Mrs. King said.

A scholarship fund was established and the board voted to donate their stipends for the cause. Others in the community followed suit, until $1,800 was collected.

Brandy Hardison, 17, a recent graduate of Charles B. Aycock High School, was given first place. She received a $1,000 scholarship and $200 gift certificate to Berkeley Mall.

Second place went to Jessica Knab, 16, a rising senior at Aycock. She received a $500 scholarship and $100 gift certificate to the mall.

Third place winner Josh Olmsted, 15, is a rising sophomore at Eastern Wayne High School. His prize was a $300 scholarship and $50 gift certificate to the mall.

Each student also received a t-shirt, abstinence bracelet, and gift certificate from McDonalds.

Organizers said scholarship money will be awarded to the college upon each student's completion of high school. Students have up to one year after graduation to use the scholarship.

Brandy, the daughter of Jarred and Cindy Pate, will attend Meredith College in the fall. The current Miss Teen Heartland plans to enter the Miss Goldsboro pageant next year. She said her background in pageants prompted her to choose abstinence as her platform.

"I have built my platform around Abstinence: The Pure Promise. My hope is to reach out to my peers and speak to them regarding this very serious issue," she wrote. "I choose to be sexually abstinent for the health and happiness of myself, my parents, my future husband, and my future children. I do this because I have set high standards for the way I live my life. I have made the pure promise."

Jessica said her parents, Master Sgt. Steve and Melissa Knab, supported her in writing about the consequences of premarital sex.

"Dad made me do it. I'm glad he made me do it," she said. In her entry, she said she keeps a picture of her parents in her head and lives by the cliché, "your body is a temple."

"Right now, my temple is still under construction, like my peers around me, though some of them don't realize this," she wrote. "I just remember to stop and consider who I'm letting into my temple because it could be a major life alteration in the end with huge consequences."

Josh, the son of Dwight and Vikki Olmsted, said he entered the contest after an English teacher told his class about it. While it started out as an assignment, he said it opened his eyes to the subject.

"I hadn't really thought about it before. It really got me thinking," he said. In his essay, he compared casual sex to "playing Russian roulette."

Ms. Tri said the top 11 essays will appear on the Health Department's teen Web site, www.WayneTeens.com. The winning essay will be published in an upcoming issue of the Goldsboro News-Argus.