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Rotary Club essay winners share life lessons
DCHS junior places 5th in state
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Dawson County High School junior Jadin Cronan won the Rotary Club Laws of Life essay contest for not only her grade level but also out of the whole school, and placed fifth in state out of 46,269 other submissions. - photo by Allie Dean

“It seems to me that my father is always the bearer of bad news. He told me the other night to distance myself, to start saying my goodbyes, ‘There may not be anything that we can do,’ he says.  If that is true, then I will have lost both my mother and my brother before I have the chance to turn 16,” Dawson County High School junior Jadin Cronan read as she stood in front of a crowd of Rotary Club members, peers and teachers on April 19.

She was reading from her award-winning essay titled “An Open Letter to Stroke Personified,” which details how her 21-year-old brother has been victim of a series of strokes, and how she would gladly take on his suffering if it could spare him. 

“Mark Twain once said, ‘Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel it is stored in than to anything it is poured on.’  So I don’t want to be angry anymore. This letter is me refusing to let my anger and hatred of you blind me any longer than it already has,” Cronan continued.

The crowd grew increasingly still as Cronan reached the end of her essay.

“He is just a boy, let him live, please,” she read. “And if you cannot leave without another life on your hands, a bit more blood under your nails; take me. I don’t know what life is like without him, nor do I want to, so please spare him and take me.”

Cronan was among four Dawson County students recognized for sharing the challenges they have faced in their young lives during this year’s Laws of Life essay contest.

“[Laws of Life are] a quotation or saying that summarizes an ideal, a character value or a principal about life,” said Rotary Club member Carla Boutin. “If followed by everyone, the law of life would make the world a better place. This is what they’re looking to do when they write their essays.”

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Pictured from left, back row: Rotary Club member Carla Boutin, sophomore essay winner Hailey Barnes, Rotary Club President Pepper Pettit. Pictured from left, front row: Ninth grade essay winner Bridgette Nichols, senior essay winner Nataleigh Pasha, junior essay winner Jadin Cronan, Dawson County High School teacher and Contest Co-Chair Lindsey Luchansky and Dawson County High School teacher and Contest Co-Chair Aimee Park. - photo by Allie Dean

The contest was sponsored at the local level by the Rotary Club of Dawson County and is put on statewide each year by the Georgia Rotary Districts Character Education Program, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to transform lives by promoting positive values and by building ethical literacy in students.

 “[The contest] encourages young people to discover for themselves the core values, principles and ideals that are important to their lives,” Boutin said. “It also gives our Rotary Club the opportunity to express our gratitude and say thank you to our students, teachers and parents.”

Winners were ninth grader Bridgette Nichols, sophomore Hailey Barnes, Cronan and senior Nataleigh Pasha.

Cronan was also named the school winner for her essay and placed fifth in the state out of 46,269 essays submitted. Her essay will be published in a catalog along with the rest of the statewide winners at

Sixty high schools across Georgia participated in the 2017-2018 contest, and the contest awarded $19,000 both in student and teacher award money to over 167 student winners and 48 teachers in the state.

Each grade level winner received $50 and the school winner was awarded an additional $50. Each school-wide winner was placed in a pool of entries from which the state winners were decided. First through fifth place as well as a Character in Action Award are given.

Teachers received a $100 teacher award if they had 25 percent or more student involvement in the contest.

The contest co-chairs were Dawson County High School teacher Lindsey Luchansky and Dawson County Junior High School teacher Aimee Park.

According to Luchansky, Dawson County High School was recognized as one of distinction for participating in the contest.