Laws of Life: WHS students honored by essay contest

Three Wapakoneta High School students were honored recently as the school’s top essay writers in the Laws of Life Essay Contest.

Mutsuo Sasaki, the son of Yuko and Jim Mankin; Stephanie Bracey, the daughter of Steve Bracey and Carla Crawford; and Chastity Austin, the daughter of Scott Austin, were chosen as Wapakoneta’s best and represented the school recently at an awards banquet held at the Veterans Memorial Civic & Convention Center in Lima.

The essay contest was started by John Templeton in 1987 and is a character education program that invites young people to express the ideals and principles that mean the most to them. The Lima area contest started in 1997. This year it had 899 entries with 45 finalists selected to attend the banquet.

Wapakoneta High School seniors were required to do an essay for the contest as an in-class assignment.

Sasaki focused his speech on how important laughter is to everyone.

“Laughter is an essential part of everyday life,” Sasaki said. “I think it should be used as much as possible.”

Sasaki said it was different from other essays he had written. While he said he ordinarily does an essay on his own, the topics were widespread and each student had to come up with his own focal point for the speech.

Bracey focused on living life to the fullest in her essay.

“I talked about overcoming obstacles and explained how you needed to keep moving on with life,” Bracey said.

Bracey mentioned Wapakoneta High School Assistant Principal Jason Kline who had died from cancer and some Wapakoneta students that had died, and how important it is to move on with life when things happen.

Austin, who was honored as the winner for Wapakoneta, based her speech on the motto of rapper Clifford Harris Jr., better known as T.I., which is “Life is like a chess move, you need to make your next move your better move.”

“I focused on three laws of life,” Austin said. “Make life count, improve yourself and set goals for yourself.”

Austin said she spent about five hours on her speech, including doing a rough and final draft.

She said being announced as Wapakoneta’s winner took her totally by surprise.

“I had no idea I had won until they announced it at the banquet,” Austin said.

Austin received $200 for her efforts. She used the money to make a down payment on her college dorm. Bracey plans to use the $100 second-place prize she won for college and Sasaki said he put his $50 third-place money into his savings account.

Sasaki plans to attend The Ohio State University and pursue a degree in medical engineering.

Bracey plans to attend Miami University and pursue a degree in psychology and social work. She said she is thinking about possibly becoming a counselor.

Austin plans to attend Bowling Green State University to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

The Lima area Laws of Life Essay Contest featured students from 14 area high schools, including Allen East, Apollo Career Center, Bath Local, Bluffton, Delphos Jefferson, Delphos St. John’s, Elida, Lima Central Catholic, Lima Senior, Perry, Shawnee, Spencerville, Lima Temple Christian and Wapakoneta.

The top three students from each school and the top three students overall were honored.

Wapakoneta has boasted two overall winners in the past, Alexis Salsbury in 2008 and Allison McCarthy in 2010.