Third annual essay contest results
|Category 1 winners
1. Jennie Guthrie (MO);
2. Amanda McCrina (GA);
3. Leah Bigl (NY);
4. Cole Adema (SD);
5. Janelle Beiler (AL);
6. Megan Tinsley (KS)
||Category 2 winners
1. Rachael Thomas (TX);
2. Faith Alessio (MI);
3. Casey Morrow (MO);
4. Noelle Blanken-ship (VA);
5. Grace Lichlyter (AL);
6. Kristen Miller (OH)
In its third year, the Home School Legal Defense Association Essay Contest drew applicants from several countries, including Mexico and New Zealand. Four hundred students submitted essays this year, and eight judges faced the difficult task of choosing only six from each category.
"This year's essays were superb," said HSLDA President Mike Smith. "Homeschoolers continue to prove their abilities."
"It was challenging to judge the essays because many of the ideas were so original. Some of the essays even persuaded me to change my views on some issues," said one judge, a homeschool graduate herself.
This was the first year that the Essay Contest was open to non-HSLDA members. Six prizes were offered in each category, ranging from $400 to $25. The six winners in each age group are listed above.
In Category I, students ages 12 to 15 wrote on the topic, "What one human invention do you believe has had the most significant impact on the present and why?" First place in this category goes to Jennie Guthrie for her essay on how the computer has changed the world for the better. In second place is Amanda McCrina, who described the impact of the camera.
In Category II, students ages 16 to 18 responded to the question, "If you could speak to a political or cultural leader who lived from about 1750 to 1800, who would it be, why would you choose him or her, and what would you discuss?" The first-place prize goes to Rachael Thomas from Texas, who imagined a conversation with her ancestor, John Adams. Second place was awarded to Faith Alessio from Michigan, who wrote about Jonathan Edwards, minister and president of Princeton University.
Popular topics in Category I included the printing press (67) and the computer (32), while students in Category II wanted to talk to George Washington (14), Thomas Jefferson (9), and Benjamin Franklin (8).
Proceeds from the contest will be given to the Home School Foundation's Special Needs Fund.
We have included the top two essays in this issue of the Court Report. Read more essays at http://www.hslda.org/essaycontest/default.asp.
Topic: What one human invention do you believe has had the most significant impact on the present and why?
First place winner: Jennie Lynne Guthrie, 14, of Wood Heights, Missouri.
It took a cow to prove it
"Hey! Who turned out the lights?" I shouted down the hall.
"It's just a blackout, Leah, nothing to worry about. You know the computers controlling the power plant have been malfunctioning lately. It's all over the news," my mother answered.
I sighed and turned back into my dark room, fumbling for a flashlight. "Bah, computers!" I mumbled. "What use are they anyway? I could live just as easily as I do now without them."
A blinding flash from my window startled me. "What . . . " I began.
"So you think you could live without computers?" a strange voice asked.
"Who . . . what . . . are you?" I said, completely bewildered.
"Who or what I am does not matter," it said. "All that matters is that you do not seem to appreciate the true value of computers."
"What value? They just break down all the time." I began edging toward my closet, hoping to reach my bat, but jumped when I realized I was no longer in my room.
"Are you saying that life without computers would be no different than life now?" The figure seemed amused.
"That's exactly what I'm saying."
"Very well. You will test your theory." The figure began to retreat.
"Wait!" I cried reaching forward, but darkness took me.
"Leah! Leah, you lazy girl! Wake up!"
"Mom?" I murmured. "What time is it?"
"It doesn't matter what time it is. The Sun's up and you should be too. Now get to your chores!" I heard my mother leave the room.
"Chores? What Chores?" I thought as I opened my eyes. I bolted upright in openmouthed amazement.
I sat on my bed staring at my surroundings. It was as if I had been sent back in time to the late 1800's. Then I remembered the previous night's events. I groaned, got up, and stretched. Again I heard my mother shouting. "Leah! Hurry up! The cow is waiting!"
I quickly dressed. "Maybe life without computers will be more different than I thought." I sighed and went to milk the cow.
"What a day!" I sighed, exhausted by my chores. "I've never done so much work in my life. I didn't realize just how much computers have influenced the modem world."
I collapsed on my bed. "For starters," I began, talking to myself, "We milked the cows by hand. On that field trip to the dairy farm last month, I saw electronic machines milking cows by the hundreds. There aren't any TVs, video games, Internet, email, cell phones, or many other things, either. Few cars are around either; there aren't any computerized assembly lines to make large quantities. One thing did surprise me, though. People are much better at math; the sales clerks at the general store were amazing! They didn't even need a simple calculator to add all the prices up." I yawned. "I sure learned a lot today. Computers really have had a huge impact on our modern world."
Another blinding flash penetrated my window.
"Now do you see your mistake, Leah?" the voice asked.
"Yes, I do. I don't [think] I'll ever forget this vacation' from computers or how much they have really done for us."
"Good. My job here is done," the voice said, and darkness again enveloped me.
"Leah! It's time for school, sweetie!"
"Mom? I had the weirdest dream. . . ."
I said as I opened my eyes.
My mother smiled. "You can tell me about it later, hon. Right now you need to get ready for school." She left me to change.
"One more thing computers seem to have affected," I said, shaking my head, "is mothers' attitudes!"
Topic: If you could speak to a political or cultural leader who lived from about 1750 to 1800, who would it be, why would you choose him or her, and what would you discuss?
First place winner: Rachael Lynn Thomas, 17, of McKinney, Texas.
Wisdom from Grandpa
Imagine that there existed a person who had encountered a breakthrough with our fourth dimension: time. Imagine that this genius had toyed around with the space/time continuum enough that he had successfully created a device that could catapult a human being back through history. Imagine that he was my friend.
If I were to be invited to step into this device and to choose any person that I could have the amazing privilege of conversation with . . . what an opportunity! I am sure that my breath would catch in my throat and my heart would stand still. This is the only way I can describe my feelings about this awesome honor. One man springs to my mind. He is a direct ancestor of mine through my mother's side. He is my grandfather far back. He is President John Adams.
I know what I would ask him. My mind has been contorted with fears on a subject that has pained me for years. It was ever since I was old enough to realize that I was not the center of the universe, that the world does not revolve around my life and me. It is impossible to determine the age when my eyes were opened to sin. . . .
If all went well, with a flash of lightning that would make me lose consciousness, I would be in 1797. I would awake and step out of my friend's masterpiece. There is Market Street House. With a trembling heart, I would mount the steps and knock timidly on the wide door. I want to see my Grandpa.
Someone would lead me inside and I would pray that Grandpa was willing and able to see me. If I'm admitted, I would walk in and see his white head held in his hands in meditation as he sits before a roaring fire in the fireplace. I would bow in reverence, overcome by what I see. There is President John Adams with his high brow, intelligent eyes, and soft smile before me. I would be silent. He would stand up and motion me to a seat. I would give my name. I would call him Grandpa and tell him how I came to see him. He would not believe me but it would be of no consequence. I would just ask him, holding back my tears, The question.
Why, after creating a country out of a few ragged dissenters and some godly Christians, did it turn away? Why, after so many men struggled for years over separating from the godless king of England, did we slowly become just like that king? Why, after we had Biblically formed a Constitution worth protecting, fighting for, and dying for, have we abandoned it to godless hedonism? Why, after having a godly, selfless president such as Grandpa, have we elected men whose selfishness has caused our country shame and mortification? How could we have strayed away? How could our education and schools have turned into mind-numbing, brain-washing, peer-influencing centers of humanism? Why is homeschooling considered strange, unsocial, or hermit-like? Why can't we pray in school? Why can't God's Ten Commandments remain in our classrooms? Why can't life be like it was in 1797?
My Grandpa would bow his aging head. All would be silent as I hold my breath waiting for his reply. Finally he would lift his head and his wise eyes would pierce through mine.
"The sin has always been there, my child." He would say barely audibly, "We have only let it be made manifest." Hopelessness would fill me.
"Is there nothing that can be done?" My eyes would burn with tears. A smile would light up my Grandpa's eyes.
"You ask why you do not have men and women like me any more. You say it only takes a few godly Christians to make a godly nation. I say your answer is right in front of me."
With calm faith he would say:
"You. It is up to you to change America. It is up to you to make the difference. With the Lord's help, you can make this country even better than what it used to be. You, my child."