The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Greater Arizona conducts an annual Laws of Life Essay Contest through its foundation to promote the development of positive character among youth in the community. More than 20 schools around the state, including Salt River High School, participated in the essay contest, with students writing on the theme of the principles and ideals that guide you in life and what matters most in their lives.
Essays submitted from around the state competed for first- through third-place prizes, as well as superior mention and honorable mention awards. The entries from Salt River High School were judged by the Valley of the Sun Kiwanis Club. On May 13, an assembly was held at Salt River High School to recognize the winners. There were two parts to the event: an awards assembly and an interactive activity hosted by the students.
Seniors Ashley Lomavaya, Marissa Flores and Isaiah Corrales received honorable mention. Superior mention and cash prizes went to seniors Marissa Flores, Keala “Nikki” Kauakahi and Maleah Silversmith.
For their interactive activity, the senior English class had been working on a project regarding making an action plan for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community to help motivate students and get them to do their work, and incorporating feedback from the Community. The students hung up giant “sticky notes” on the walls of the lecture hall. Each note had a question or statement to provoke thought about the state of education in Salt River, along with space for people to add their own written thoughts and messages.
“One of the most impressive things about the group was their thoughtfulness and [their] ability to tell their stories and what they have learned and share it with others,” said SRHS teacher Brandon Tauscher.
“All the seniors are most academic audits, so we asked ourselves, ‘What should we do to make the attendance better in Salt River High School?’” said Sienna Waters. Waters, who is a senior, thought low attendance was an issue of great concern throughout the school and wanted to address the question to as many people as possible.
Silversmith, who won superior mention for her essay, said, “I think it is good that we are doing this, because there is a lot of kids who don’t do their work, and a lot of teachers think that we are all bad kids in the Community, but they are learning more about us. We taught them that we are not lazy and we do want to do our work, and we do actually try, but things go on such as kids not being at the same level and teachers not realizing that. The teachers now are finally seeing the improvements by learning our backgrounds, rather than judging someone right away.”
Flores talked to each person who walked by about something she felt very strongly about. “Attendance is a serious issue here at the high school, whether it is because a student was suspended because they missed too many days, [or because they were] caught with drugs or fighting,” said Flores. “We should come up with a different way of punishing them [besides] having them miss even more days, like having to stay after school to catch up the time they missed. I just feel that this attendance issue is creating a bigger problem for us, because when we leave school and attend college or work, we will not be able to miss days like we did at school. It’s creating a bad habit.”
After the awards presentation, students, parents, teachers and guests walked around and had a chance to read the questions posted along the wall and also add their own views on the topics.
To read some of the student essays, visit www.bbb.org/central-northern-western-arizona/programs-services/laws-of-life.