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Two high school students earned the top two spots in an essay contest — a contest that helped them to find themselves.
Wapakoneta High School seniors Salon Gegel and Makenna Salsbury each wrote an essay for the “Laws of Life” contest, and won first and second place at their school, respectively.
“I wrote about smiling,” Gegel said. “Just smiling at someone can change someone’s day. It can make their day a bit brighter.”
Gegel said she dealt with a lot of emotion as she sat down and wrote her essay for the contest.
“I based my essay on two experiences,” Gegel said. “During my freshman year, someone in my class committed suicide. I wish I could walk up to him and smile.”
Ever since this event, Gegel has been smiling and keeping a positive attitude, both inside and outside of school, in hopes it will help make someone else’s day better.
Another experience Gegel talked about in her essay was that she had a friend who was suicidal — and a smile changed things.
“It changed his life when I smiled at him,” Gegel said.
So Gegel proved in her essay that a smile and cheerful attitude can go a long way.
Reflecting on her essay, Gegel said she had a difficult time writing it.
“I had a hard time writing out the story,” the daughter of Tammy and Mike Gegel said. “It was very emotional and I cried through it.”
But at the end, Gegel said it felt good to say what she felt.
“I didn’t realize how much smiling at people can change the world,” Gegel said.
Now Gegel smiles and has a positive attitude whereever she goes and is cheerful to everyone she meets.
“I’m glad I do it,” Gegel said of smiling.
When she found out she was one of the top students and won the contest at the Wapakoneta School District level, she said the announcement made her happy — and she smiled.
“I was really surprised and really grateful I won,” Gegel said of nabbing the top spot at the school for the contest.
Gegel noted English is one of her favorite subjects, but her most favorite is music. She is in the show choir, symphonic band and pep band.
After graduation this year, the 18-year-old plans to attend Bowling Green State University in the fall, where she will study dance and possibly business management.
Gegel’s classmate in Linda Temple’s English class, Makenna Salsbury, was named the second- place winner for the “Laws of Life” competition.
“I wrote about hometown hero Neil Armstrong,” Salsbury said. “Through hard work and determination, he proved that he could make it to the moon.”
Salsbury noted Armstrong was from a small town, but that should not stop anyone from accomplishing their goals.
“Even though I’m from a small town, I can make it to a moon,” Salsbury said.
Salsbury used the moon as a reference to her highest dreams and goals she is working toward.
Salsbury proved in her essay that no matter where you are from, and what kind of goals you have, if you work hard, you can succeed. She used Armstrong as an example.
“I always think when I am stressed out because of a test, that he made it through, so I can make it through, too,” Salsbury said.
This essay contest was about the students learning who they are.
“What is most important is what’s important to yourself and what your goals are,” Salsbury said. “You can do anything to reach them — even if it’s going to the moon.”
The daughter of Joyce and Mark Salsbury noted she was surprised when she found out she earned second place.
“I enjoyed writing it,” Salsbury said. “The assignment was good because as seniors, we were able to sit down and learn who we are.”
This essay was about self-reflection, and the 17-year-old said she has learned a lot through this essay.
“It’s a self-reflection on what makes you, you,” Salsbury said.
Salsbury said she enjoyed English class, along with all the subjects, especially biology.
After graduation, Salsbury plans to attend the University of Toledo, and will study biology and pre-dental, as she wants to become an orthodontist.
See Wednesday’s edition of the Wapakoneta Daily News to learn about the third-, fourth- and fifth-place winners of the “Laws of Life” essay contest at Wapakoneta High School. The top five students’ essays will be entered into the state competition.