Character Counts! Essay Contest Winners Honored

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Provided by Prince William County Bar Association

The Prince William County Bar Association recently sponsored the Annual Character Counts! Essay Contest. The contest is open to all students enrolled in public middle schools in Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park.  Twelve students were recognized for their outstanding essays on one of the six pillars of good character which are the foundation of the Character Counts! Organization:  Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship.

Character Counts! is a nationally recognized program of the Josephson Institute of Ethics that promotes ethics for youth, sports, business, public policy and policing.  Their motto is “ethics everywhere, all the time” and their mission statement is “Working to create a world where decisions and behavior are guided by ethics.”

This year, the PWC Bar received over 180 essays from nine area middle schools.  Volunteer attorneys and judges read every essay submitted, and selected first and second place entries for each pillar of good character.  The Bar then hosted an awards ceremony, where they presented cash and commemorative prizes to the students. The students read their winning essays aloud for the schools administrators and family members in attendance.

According to Sarah Knapp, President of the PWC Bar Association, “Hearing the middle school students read their essays and seeing the pride in their (and their parents’) eyes for being recognized for writing about good character was truly special. They were so grateful to the Bar Association for the program and the ceremony.”  The Bar Association would also like to thank the PWC Bar Foundation for their generous sponsorship of the awards, and Manassas City Council for allowing us to use their council chambers for the award ceremony.

Here are some excerpts from the winning essays:

1st Place, Caring:  I always try to help.  …even small gestures can have a huge impact on someone’s life.

2nd Place, Fairness:  You should always do the right thing.  If it benefits someone else and not yourself, more than likely, someone will return the favor to you in some way.

1st Place ResponsibilityResponsible children make responsible humans who make responsible nation[s]which makes a happy planet. 

2nd Place Respect:  Respect starts with self-respect.  It’s a reflection of your overall emotional judgement of your self-worth. 

1st Place Trustworthiness:  [Trustworthiness] is a character trait that helps you uphold your reputation.  It helps people know that you are always honest and follow the rules. 

1st Place Citizenship:  This is the true meaning of citizenship, working together to try to bring about greatness and truth throughout our community.

For more information about this or other community service programs sponsored by the PWC Bar Association, visit




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