Forty-four middle school students from Corpus Christi and Paul Revere participated in the annual Pacific Palisades essay contest, sponsored by the Palisades Optimist Club.
First place and $100 went to Revere seventh grader Emma O’Neil, second place and $75 went to Corpus eighth grader John McNicholas and third place and $50 went to Revere eighth grader Jacob Novorr.
O’Neil’s essay, which addressed the topic “How Can I Help My Friends Realize Their Value?” was sent to the District level to compete for a $2,500 college scholarship.
The three student winners read their essays, which were between 700 and 800 words in length, at an Optimist breakfast meeting in March at Aldersgate Retreat Center.
O’Neil, who plays violin in the Revere Symphony, chamber and advanced orchestras, titled her essay “Being There for a Friend.” She is the daughter of Stacy Scholder and Robert O’Neil.
“My friend was contemplating whether to audition for an orchestra. She didn’t believe in herself, but I believed in her and encouraged her,” O’Neil wrote. “When she went to the audition, I went with her to show my support. She got a spot in the orchestra and it was clear from the smile on her face that she really appreciated my confidence in her. A true friend can help you find courage within yourself and lead you to feel more self-assured.”
McNicholas, the son of Patrick McNicholas and Molly Flaherty, plays volleyball for his school and for the Pacific Palisades Volleyball Club.
He wrote, “About a year ago, my whole class went to a camp and there were four people in each bunk room. Then people started to switch around. This left one kid all alone. I heard him begin to cry because he felt left out by the others. Even though I didn’t know him that well at the time, I walked into the room and tried my best to make him feel better. He told me that he felt worthless and that no one cared about him. I began to talk with him for a little while and he felt better. I knew we had one extra bed in our room, and I invited him to join us. Over time, I have become very good friends with him. This experience showed me how a simple act of kindness can turn into a close friendship.”
Novorr, the son of Jim and Terry Novorr, registered for the contest because “I saw the opportunity to enter one of my essays for the public to read.” He concluded his submission, “Finally and most importantly, you can simply just spend time with your friends. By devoting time to your friends, you show them that you care about them and you truly value your friendship with them.”
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