Prince William County Bar Association sponsors the CHARACTER COUNTS! Essay Contest

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Provided by Prince William County Bar Association

2015 Character Counts first place essay winners

2015 Character Counts first place essay winners

The Prince William County Bar Association, Inc., recently sponsored the CHARACTER COUNTS! Essay contest, open to all students enrolled in public middle schools in Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park. The purpose of the contest is to encourage students to focus on the positive character attributes that form the six pillars of good character which are the foundation of the nationally recognized CHARACTER COUNTS! Program. PWL Those pillars are Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship.

Students were asked to select one of the pillars of good character and to write an essay telling, “What it means to you.” Four hundred and thirty essays were received this year. Members of the PWC Bar Association volunteer to read and judge the essays, and select one winner per pillar of character and one runner up. The winning students received cash prices and awards, which were made possible by a generous grant from the Prince William County Bar Foundation, at a special ceremony to commend them for their excellent essays. The Bar considers this an age appropriate ethics program for middle school youth and members look forward to reading these essays every year.

This year’s first place winners were: Melody Hernandez, Manassas Park Middle School for Trustworthiness; Pranav Wadhwa, Ronald Wilson Reagan Middle School for Respect; Matt Binkowski from Ronald Wilson Reagan Middle School for Responsibility; Adrita Quabili from Potomac Middle School for Fairness; Kayla Melendez from Manassas Park Middle School for Caring and Jonah Jurack from Benton Middle School for Citizenship.

Here are excerpts from the first place essays:

Trustworthiness: Trustworthy people have more friends, more freedoms from their parents, and even teachers give them more responsibilities and freedoms in school. Trustworthy people always keep their word.

Respect: To respect someone means to value and honor them as an equal regardless of any differences between one and another. Respect should not be an obligation. It should come from one’s heart.

Responsibility: I think an important part of responsibility is that you use it even when nobody is watching.

Fairness: There is a girl in a hijab being called a terrorist for practicing a religion. A woman at a business meeting is sitting as the men ignore her input. There are two boys dating that are being called fags. There is a transgender woman being forced to use the men’s restroom. There is an African American man that everyone is afraid of just because of the color of his skin. IT’S NOT FAIR. One of the worst qualities of the human race is the inability to realize that everyone isn’t like them.

Caring: Caring means having a warm heart and making people happy. It is showing kindness and concern to others. You can care with your heard and your good intentions.

Citizenship: …citizenship is a virtue that deserves recognition because it is the foundation of law and order in society. Being a good citizen means you are willing and able to put others before yourself to make life better for everyone.

This year’s second place winners were: Mo Hicks from Benton Middle School for Trustworthiness; Genevive Fournier from Saunders Middle School for Respect; Kaleikaumake Grebin from Rippon Middle School for Responsibility; Ariel Ramos from Ronald Wilson Reagan Middle School for Fairness; Darby Burge from Benton Middle School for Caring and Sarah McKenzie from Manassas Park Middle School for Citizenship.

For more information about this program or other community outreach programs sponsored by the Prince William County Bar Association, visit them online at


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