07/29/12 — County abstinence essay winners celebrate waiting

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County abstinence essay winners celebrate waiting

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 29, 2012 1:50 AM

Three winners of the 10th annual abstinence essay contest, sponsored by the Wayne County Health Department, were announced at the Board of Health meeting Wednesday.

Carolyn King, health education supervisor, recalled a brainstorm session with her staff a decade ago, as they discussed ways to better work with youth and efforts to curtail the number of teen pregnancies.

A big help in the process was when the Board of Health got on board, supporting the introduction of an abstinence essay contest.

They went a step further in 2005 when then-board member Donna Edmundson introduced the notion of the board lending support by donating their stipends to the cause.

"Before the Board of Health gave their stipends, we kind of held our hands out," Mrs. King said, explaining how for years her staff had relied on the generosity of local businesses and organizations.

This year's contest, open to public, private and home-schooled students in grades 9-12, drew 40 responses.

First place winner was Danielle McBarron, a recent graduate of Wayne School of Engineering, who plans to attend Regent University in Virginia to study psychology.

The 18-year-old said she was encouraged by her youth pastor at Harvest Fellowship to enter the contest.

"Since I'm going off to college it just felt like the thing to do," she said.

In her essay, "Abstinence: Unrivaled, Unchanging, Unfailing," she suggested that having sex should be "more than an activity one can cross off their bucket list."

She wrote that it should be considered among the most important decision a youth can make since it affects not only one's present but future as well.

"Let's face it. No teenager today is ready for the responsibility and hard work that having a child necessitates," she wrote. "There are many other significant things that would be more beneficial for teens to focus on, including school, work, family and friends."

She received a $1,000 scholarship and $200 gift certificate.

Second-place recipient, Anna Pierce, is a rising senior at Wayne Christian School.

A teacher at the school announced the contest and encouraged students to enter.

The 17-year-old said she was also interested in the possibility of attaining scholarship money to help when she heads off to college after graduation. She said she hopes to attend East Carolina University and study nursing.

Ms. Pierce's essay centered around the theme, "Good Things Come to Those Who Wait."

"Abstinence has many advantages," she wrote. "Some of those may include no pregnancy, freedom from guilt, and no sexually transmitted diseases. Teen pregnancy is 100 percent preventable."

Her prize was a $500 scholarship and $100 gift certificate.

Third place went to Michaela Deguzman, a rising junior at Wayne Early/Middle College High School, who received a $300 scholarship and $50 gift certificate.

Davin Madden, health director, congratulated the winners as well as their parents.

"The message you put forth is important," he said. "I appreciate that you had the courage to do it.

"The prize is always an incentive but the fact that you took the effort is important and we appreciate it a lot."

For a listing of current and previous winners and their essays, visit www.wayneteens.gov.