The Borger Rotary Club recognized three students for their accomplishments in this year’s Four-Way Test Essay Contest.
Borger Middle School student Cooper Jones was named the first place winner, and BMS students Shelby Harris and Ashleigh Brown each tied for second.
Amy Earles, an English teacher at BMS, said she and her teaching partner Tricia Ferguson encourage students to participate in the essay contest. The essay is usually assigned in April after the TAKS testing concludes, and students have about two weeks to complete the essay. The two teachers then read through them, pick the best ones, and submit those to the Rotary Club for final consideration.
“There was an assortment of topics. There were the usual topics like abortion, drunk driving, friendship, things like that,” Earles said. “This year we had some that were a little bit different, talking about environmentalism, becoming an advocate, and giving blood. We really enjoyed reading them and I hope you enjoyed the ones that you received.”
Brown was the first to share her essay, which talked about the issue of smoking from the perspective of the Four-Way Test. She said when you are faced with a decision, the Four-Way Test is a great way to help in making that decision, helping a person really think things through before finalizing that decision.
“Many people don’t know the truth about tobacco and what it can do to you,” she said. “Some people try and make you think it’s not harmful, but are they telling you the truth? Are they telling you that tobacco is harmless and if you try it once you won’t get addicted? They are lying to you.”
Brown said smoking is a hard habit for people to break, because tobacco contains nicotine, a highly addictive drug. She said simply trying it one time could result in a lifetime of addiction for a person.
She said it is important to really think through choosing whether or not to take that first smoke.
When it comes to the next part of the four-way test, which begs the question Is it fair to all concerned?, Brown asked if it was fair that a person was pressured and lied to about that first smoke, that they were now dealing with an addiction. She also said people who are addicted are now spending their money on something they may never have intended to get addicted to in the first place.
The next part of the Four-Way Test deals with good will and better friendships. Brown said it may seem at first that smoking will bring a person acceptance, but in the end, it tears down friendships instead of building them up and could cost you friendships with people that were once important to you.
The final part of the test deals with a decision being beneficial to all concerned. She said it appears beneficial to those who get the money that results from a person’s addiction to tobacco, but the person addicted certainly does not benefit from picking up the habit.
She said the Four-Way Test will help people develop moral character, have better values, and develop better friendships with their friends and family.
Harris was next to read her essay, which dealt with the issue of texting while driving. She said there are many wrecks that are caused by adults and teenagers who text while they drive.
“The truth is, who would want to risk their lives over a silly text message?” she said.
She asked how many people are on their cell phones while in the car, and when most people are doing something on their phone, they really are not keeping their eyes on the road.
Harris said it isn’t fair for people to put their lives or the lives of others at risk, simply to send out a text message. She said it also isn’t fair when a person could be in a wreck as a result of someone else in another vehicle texting behind the wheel.
She said if people keep their hands off their phones and on the wheel, this will bring good will not only to them, but everyone else out on the road.
“When you’re with your friends and family, make sure that they also follow these rules, that way you become better friends and have better relationships with them, and stay safe,” Harris said.
In order to make it beneficial to all concerned, Harris said it is important for everyone to make others aware of the dangers of texting and driving.
“The more people who know the dangers of texting and driving, the safer the roads will be,” she said.
Jones was the last to share his essay with the club, talking about the importance of funding for academic programs. He said the State of Texas will fund public schools all around Texas and school boards will meet annually on just how to distribute the money.
“They will discuss possible cuts on great educational and extracurricular programs, but when the football budget is in hand, it sometimes increases without question,” he said.
He said in its essence, football is a good thing, but if it comes down to cutting the budgets for educational programs for one single sport, things can get out of hand, and it would do well to look at the bigger picture.
Jones said when looking at this issue, he believes the question of funding athletics over academics needs to be considered, as well as the effect that can have on a school system.
“What you might not realize is that academic proficiency and athletics go hand-in-hand,” he said. “If you don’t pass a class the week of the big game, you probably aren’t eligible to play, which is a real setback to star players.”
He said athletics are great, but believes academics are the building blocks of schools. With most college athletes pursuing other ventures after they finish school, he said this statement rings true.
Jones said it may not seem fair to everyone, and the issue could go two ways. However, compromises can be reached, and he said once the benefits of football vs. academics are weighed, a compromise can be much more achievable.
“The football program is great because it is a team sport and teaches you great values of life, on and off the field, which can be applied in education as well,” he said.
He said reaching a compromise on this issue could bring about good will and better friendships, and help people on each side of the aisle understand both sides of the story. Jones said he is already seeing this happen, in that some select athletes are also involved in extracurricular activities outside of sports.
In concluding his speech, he believes tolerance can go a long way. He said if it comes down to cutting the academic budget vs. the football budget in Texas, those involved will come to a crossroads each time.
“The way it could be most beneficial and helpful is if both sides could hear both sides of the issue and look at similarities and differences in football and educational programs,” Jones said. “I don’t believe the school system should quarrel over such a thing. We should learn to collaborate and make an effort to come to terms of agreement, and not just on this issue, but in life, because it is indeed very short.”
Jones attended the Rotary meeting with parents Craig and Lisa Jones, Harris attended with parents Todd and Peggy Harris, and Brown attended with grandmother Marilyn Brown and father Zac Brown.