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First Place Winners left to right: Santiel Valdes-Said, Manassas Park Middle School; Lesly Avelar, Beville Middle School; Fatimah Khalid, Potomac Middle School; Nina Jannatifar, Beville Middle School; Shaianna Trump Potomac Middle School; and Noah Grady, Manassas Park Middle School.

Prince William County Bar Essay Contest

Contributed by PWCBA

First Place Winners left to right:  Santiel Valdes-Said, Manassas Park Middle School; Lesly Avelar, Beville Middle School;  Fatimah Khalid, Potomac Middle School; Nina Jannatifar, Beville Middle School; Shaianna Trump Potomac Middle School; and Noah Grady, Manassas Park Middle School.
First Place Winners left to right: Santiel Valdes-Said, Manassas Park Middle School; Lesly Avelar, Beville Middle School; Fatimah Khalid, Potomac Middle School; Nina Jannatifar, Beville Middle School; Shaianna Trump Potomac Middle School; and Noah Grady, Manassas Park Middle School.

The Prince William County Bar Association sponsors the CHARACTER COUNTS! Essay contest in area middle schools each year.  CHARACTER COUNTS! is a nationally recognized character education organization that focusses on six pillars of good character which are:  Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship.  The essay contest is open to all students enrolled in public middle schools in Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.

This year’s winning essays were among the best we’ve ever received; according to volunteers from the local bar association who read all the essays submitted and selected the first and second place winner for each pillar of good character.

Santiel Valdes-Said, a seventh grade student from Manassas Park Middle School exudes a maturity beyond his years when he talks about how Trustworthiness “keeps our homes running smoothly, our communities safe and civilized, and our schools a place where children can learn.”

Lesly Saldana Avelar, an eighth grade student from Beville Middle School understands the integral role Respect plays in all relationships; writing that Respect, “acknowledges dignity in every living creature.”  And Nina Jannatifar, a seventh grade student also from Beville Middle School has an understanding of the rule of law as she writes about the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the context of her essay on Fairness.

Other contest first place winners were:  Fatimah Khalid, 8th grade, Potomac Middle School for Responsibility; Shaianna Trump, 8th grade, Potomac Middle School for Caring; and Noah Grade, 7th grade, Manassas Park Middle School for Citizenship.

Second Place Winners left to right:  Julia May, Lake Ridge Middle School; Lala Badaoui, Marsteller Middle School; Brenna Gill, Potomac Middle School; Elle Connelly, Lake Ridge Middle School; and Kadija Sesay, Potomac Middle School.
Second Place Winners left to right: Julia May, Lake Ridge Middle School; Lala Badaoui, Marsteller Middle School; Brenna Gill, Potomac Middle School; Elle Connelly, Lake Ridge Middle School; and Kadija Sesay, Potomac Middle School.

Second place winners were:  Julia Elizabeth May, 7th grade, Lake Ridge Middle School for Trustworthiness; Cherelle Sutton, 7th grade, Manassas Park Middle School for Respect; Lala Badaoui, 7th grade Marsteller Middle School for Responsibility; Brenna Gill, 8th grade, Potomac Middle School for Fairness, Elle Connelly, 6th grade, Lake Ridge Middle School for Caring,  and Khadija Sesay, 8th grade, Potomac Middle School for Citizenship.

The first and second place winners received cash and commemorative awards which were made possible by a generous grant from the Prince William County Bar Foundation.  The six winning essays are currently on display at the Prince William County Courthouse in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Clerk’s Office.

For more information about this or other community service programming, visit the Prince William County Bar Association on line at www.pwcba.org.

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