06/24/08 — Abstinence essay winners recognized by health board

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Abstinence essay winners recognized by health board

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 24, 2008 1:45 PM

Wayne County Board of Health recognized winners in its annual abstinence essay contest last week.

This is the third year scholarships have been offered for the competition, said Carolyn King, health education supervisor. The Board of Health supported the effort by donating their stipend to the fund, with addition donations gathered from other agencies and organizations.

"The whole purpose of this essay contest is to say to young people, 'You're doing a right thing, you're doing a good thing. Don't feel like the only person out there, because you're not,'" Mrs. King said.

In the latest contest, 73 essays were received from public, private and home-schooled students. Last year, she said, 51 entries came in.

Jessica Henry, a senior at Eastern Wayne High School, won first place. She received a $1,00 scholarship, $200 gift card, $5 McDonalds card, T-shirt and certificate. Two years ago, she had entered and received an honorable mention.

Thanking the board for making the scholarship money available, she said, "I believe abstinence is a very important issue in a teenager's life. I'm hoping that these essays touch, if not one, many people."

Reading from a portion of her winning essay, she spoke about the familiarity teens have regarding the topic -- "in the hallways at school, heard about it from other classmates, talked about it in depth and have learned of its consequences."

"But do teens really understand?" she asked.

Ms. Henry said she knew of several who had not made the choice to abstain, whose actions resulted in the conception of a child. Each paid a different price for their choice, none a "temporary price tag."

"It is a lifetime of partial regret, humiliation, unfair judgment and struggle," she read. "Ultimately, the job differs from what you told your kindergarten class of what you wanted to be when you grew up, doesn't it?"

Anthony Chandler, a senior at Pathway Christian Academy, received second place. In addition to the T-shirt, certificate and $5 gift card to McDonalds, he earned a $500 scholarship and $100 gift card to Wal-Mart.

Third place went to Michael Atkins, Jr., a senior at Charles B. Aycock High School, who had also been an honorable mention recipient in the 2006 contest. His prizes included a $300 scholarship, $50 gift certificate to Target, $5 gift card to McDonalds, T-shirt and certificate.

Honorable mentions went to eight students, each receiving a $5 gift card to McDonalds. They included Norma Valontin, a sophomore at Spring Creek High School; Kristen Fischer, junior at Aycock; Kathleen Tolbert, junior at Pathway Christian Academy; Kelly Gregorryk, a junior at Easter Wayne; Sarah Richter, junior at Eastern Wayne; Sedonia Scott, freshman at Eastern Wayne; Tiffany Breindel, senior at Eastern Wayne; and Leigh Johnson, freshman at Wayne Early/Middle College High School.

The top 12 essays can be read online at www.wayneteens.com.