Reflection is a critical part of fostering students’ deep understanding of what it means to display good character.  This year, Imagine Schools hosted its 6th Annual Character Essay Contest to encourage just that.  Students chose a maxim or quotation that they found particularly meaningful and reflected in an essay on how that maxim applied to their lives and/or the world around them.

This year, 50 Imagine schools across the country submitted essays for judging!  It was wonderful to gain insight into how some of these students were connecting truths about character to situations in their own lives, especially through their most difficult experiences.

Awards were given to First Prize winners and Honorable Mentions in each grade level category from third-eighth, with a separate category for High School.  Click on the 1st place winner’s name in each grade level below to read the winning essays!

Third Grade

1st Place Winner:  Jasmyn Woodland, Imagine Foundations Public Charter Schools (MD)

Notable Quotes

“With courage the sky is the limit and it will allow me to place my name amongst the stars.” Jianna Pugh, 3rd grader, Imagine Southeast (DC)

 “Courage can just be someone saying: ‘Next time I will try to do a little better.’” Tobin Landford, 3rd grader, Imagine Firestone (CO)

 “I want to be like the pebble that is tossed into the water and begins to ripple.  I will believe in myself and help others do the same.” Legacy Blatzheim, Honorable Mention, 3rd grader, Imagine East Mesa (AZ)

 “My teacher talked about how being smart doesn’t always mean that the work is going to be easy.” Alivia Williams, 3rd grader, Imagine Bell Canyon (AZ)

 “It’s easy to be happy when you have a good attitude.” August Cheney, 3rd grader, Imagine Town Center

 “My joy and happiness had rubbed off on her! . . . If you think positive and always have a grin on the inside and out your day will always be more joyful.  I notice it is very contagious.”  Alina Gonzalez, 2nd Place in 3rd grade, Imagine School at Desert West (AZ)

Fourth Grade

1st Place Winner: Chelsea Davis, Imagine Bella Academy of Excellence (OH)

Notable Quotes

“You can’t get a job, a good education, or even a phone if you don’t have a character that does right just because it’s right.  So, think about it.”  Alayna Williams, 4th grader, Imagine Evening Rose (FL)

 “For example, my mom turned around and walked where she needed to be on the good path.  She is now in school.  She falls then gets back up.  She is on the crooked path but she is almost where the path of integrity is.  I feel happy because my mom wanted a better life.” Alexis Alexander, Honorable Mention in 4th grade, Imagine Groveport (OH)

 “Maturity is the point in your life when you know what is right from wrong, and you choose the path that benefits not only yourself but other people.”  Chelsea Davis, 1st Place in 4th grade, Imagine Bella (OH)

 “…you can’t stand still and expect things to happen.” Alexa Roth, 4th grader, Imagine West Gilbert (AZ)

Fifth Grade

1st Place Winner: Bailey Misencik, Imagine Schools North Manatee

Notable Quotes

“To use all of my effort, I need to persevere.  To put in all of my effort, I must have the will-power to not give up.  If I do these things, I will be incandescent.  I know everyone can shine, they just have to use all of their effort.” Kaelyn Benton, 5th grader, Imagine Indigo Ranch (CO)

 “You might have that feeling where you think just one person isn’t enough, even though it is.  Buddha, an Indian spiritual teacher once said, “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the one candle will never end.”  Hannah Halili, 5th grader, Imagine South Lake (FL)

“’Don’t bunt.  Aim out of the ballpark.’  (David Oligvy).  This quote to me means to reach for a better or higher goal in life.  For example, instead of aiming to be a teacher, you can shoot to be a principal.” Tolupe Ogunla, 5th grader, Imagine Desert West (AZ)

Sixth Grade

1st Place Winner: Destiny Garraus, Imagine School at North Port

Notable Quotes

“…you should not only be your own person, you should be your own leader.” Sarah Duran, 6th grader, Imagine Cortez Park (AZ)

 “…an innate talent is not necessary to make discoveries, and that all is needed is curiosity.” Katie Berlatsky, 6th grader, Imagine Chancellor (FL)

 “When someone asks a question, it sets a platform for discovery and understanding.  The world would have never advanced without curiosity.” Destiny Garruas, 1st Place in 6th grade, Imagine North Port (FL)

 “When we fail at something we should be even more excited to work harder and do better.” Cheraine Pugh, 6th grader, Imagine Southeast (DC)

 “Wanting what you can’t have is a road with a dead end.” Amaya Fields, 6th grader, Imagine Groveport (OH)

 “Yes, failure isn’t as sweet as victory.  It might never be.  If haven’t learned anything at all, I guess you should call yourself a loser.” Michael Saez, 6th grader, Imagine Kissimmee (FL)

 “The only person stopping you from doing something you love is yourself.”  Jenna Podlogar, 6th grader, Imagine Bella (OH)

 “Even Michael had to fail in order to get as good as he is.  I say that failing is not bad.  By failing we can learn what you did wrong, fix the problem and try again.  You must fail to succeed.” Dawson Clifton, 6th grader, Imagine Rosefield (AZ)

 “I think that there are two qualities that we can have in order to be happy for others.  We can show real love for people and we can also be humble.” Jordan Henry, 3rd Place in 6th grade, Imagine Foundations (MD)

 Seventh Grade

1st Place Winner: Jinni Kwan, Imagine Classical Academy at Indigo Ranch

Notable Quotes

“Be the sailor of your ship of life, not a passenger.” Pierina Anton, 7th grader, Imagine Kissimmee (FL)

 “One of my goals is overcome my fears of the Arizona State Fair ride “G-force” I chose to overcome it and not regret it late on.  I sucked my fears in me and went on the ride. My screams went with the swinging and rotating in miles per hour, but when I got off, I felt triumph and few minutes of nausea.” Roberto Casas, Honorable Mention, 7th grader, Imagine Cortez Park (AZ)

 “If public schools get better nonviolent students and a better teaching program, than the world would be an even better place.  If every student in the schools that is in the city of Cleveland do their best, and not get kicked out it would change the world.”  La’Michael Hammett, 7th grader, Imagine Bella (OH)

 “An example of the quote is when you won the Super Bowl.  You never won the game on accident.  You got to win because you worked hard with your teammates and you guys succeeded together.  You guys didn’t win because you guys cheated or the judges mixed up the scores.”  Cora Wolcott, 7th grader, Imagine Great Western (OH)

 “…there was time where I had a lot homework.  I had piles and piles of homework, from Language Arts to Civics to Algebra.  The work kept piling on, as endless as the ocean.  What I wanted to do was rip every single piece of paper into shreds and scream my head off.  I was a living dinosaur, ready to attack and perish.  Luckily, I took a deep breath and forced myself to calm down.”  Marisa Connell, 7th grader, Imagine Broward (FL)

 “People say you only live once, but they don’t really finish the sentence to me.  They don’t tell you what to do with your life or how to act.” Ebony Cobbs, 7th grader, Imagine Tempe (AZ)

 “My brother and I stand still in terror as we gaze at the innocent game controller that lies in the center of broken glass.  Now the sea of wrong has awakened.  What use to be the raging fire of pride has shimmered down as the swelling waves of guilt and panic come crashing in.  At first I think nothing could save us from drowning in this ocean.  But there is one ray that will shine through the stormy sky.  That ray is called forgiveness.”  Rachel Oliver, 8th grader, Imagine Firestone (CO)

Eighth Grade

1st Place Winner: Lauren Drake, Imagine Schools at East Mesa

Notable Quotes

“…forgiving someone takes time and energy, in order to be forgiven you must have the perseverance to continue to fight for your friendship.” Fereshtah Flores, 2nd Place in 8th grade, Imagine Avondale (AZ)

 “True forgiveness not only frees the person who receives it, but it also heals the person who gives it.” Daniele Therrien, 8th grader, Imagine North Port (FL)

High School

1st Place Winner: Kristiana Gregoire, Imagine School at North Port

Notable Quotes

“Once old societies are flooded over by chaos, new ones are born into the sullen light and without enough care and respect, they’ll crumble just as easily as the past ones did.” Kristiana Gregoire, 1st Place in High School Category, Imagine North Port (FL)

 “I learned that in every person’s life they have things they must go through to either make them or break them.  But I also learned that it is you, and your decisions that decide whether you get made into something great, or broken down into a pile of nothingness.” Trevion Torrence, 3rd Place in High School Category, Imagine College Prep (MO)