07/24/11 — Abstinence essay contest celebrates successful year

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Abstinence essay contest celebrates successful year

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 24, 2011 1:50 AM

Melissa Eller learned about the Health Department's abstinence essay contest at school and decided over spring break to enter.

"I've always loved writing and have a great respect for the power of words," she said.

She approached the project from the vantage point of a teenage girl awaiting the outcome of a pregnancy test.

"The plastic white stick that held the fate of her future lay there on the bathroom counter, seemingly glaring at her," she wrote. "As she waited for either the + or - symbol to appear, she contemplated what each of those symbols would mean for the rest of her life ... What could she have done to prevent being in this terrifying situation of limbo?"

Thousands of teenagers across the country find themselves in such a situation, she continued.

"Every day a girl's future is altered dramatically and is deadlocked on a path that she doesn't have the choice to veer off of. Every day a young man's personal freedom is abruptly taken away from him in a fleeting moment," she wrote. "It's not planned, it's not expected, and it's definitely never a happy occasion. All because a young couple felt that they had been careful enough ... and soon learned that they weren't."

Abstinence would be the only guarantee, suggested the essay that took first place in the contest. Ms. Eller was awarded a $1,000 scholarship and a $200 gift card.

The recent graduate of Spring Creek High School plans to major in biology at East Carolina University.

This is the ninth year the Health Department has sponsored the abstinence essay contest.

In its initial stages, prizes consisted of gift cards to the mall and fast food restaurants and monetary awards of $100, $50 and $25.

The three winners came from a pool of 39 entrants from public, private and home-school.

"Actually, we had to write this (for English class)," admitted Christina Foster, 18 and a recent graduate of Wayne Christian School, adding, "We didn't have to send it in."

She did submit it, though, earning second place.

Whether for religious, moral or preventive reasons, teenagers should choose abstinence, she wrote.

"Sex is a far more precious gift than many teenagers realize. It is not something that will make two people fall in love and it is not something that will restore a broken relationship. In fact, outside of marriage, sex often makes relationships more difficult."

Ms. Foster, who plans to attend Charleston Southern University and major in nursing, received a $500 scholarship and $100 gift card.

Third-place recipient was Jennifer Marshall, a 15-year-old home-schooled student.

The rising junior's message was to "Guard your Gift," the gift every person is born with -- purity.

The gift will stay special, she continued, if protected and not given away too soon. If that doesn't happen, though, there is still a remedy.

"If you have already given yourself away, it is not too late to choose secondhand virginity (purity)," she wrote. "Though no longer perfect, 'Shine up your gift!' Choose to abstain from this day forward. Save your gift for your husband/wife on your special day. Guard your gift! Use common sense; choose abstinence."