Springboro Student Wins Essay Contest


SPRINGBORO, OH -- Every year, Optimist Clubs all over the world host essay contests for students aged 19 and under who have not yet completed high school or its equivalent. This year's contestants composed an essay of 700-800 words addressing the topic, "Optimism: How It Connects Us." Each contestant can enter only one club's contest, and previous years' winners are not eligible.  

Warren County Optimist Clubs in Lebanon and in Springboro hosted club-level essay contests. Each club's three judge panel scored the essays based on logical interpretation of the topic, adherence to the topic, creativity, vocabulary and style. One club-level winning essay was then forwarded to the Ohio District contest. Those essays were judged, again, by a 3 person panel using the same criteria employed at the club level. 

On May 4th, Ohio Optimists gathered in Columbus for their Ohio District Conference. It was at that conference the Ohio District Essay Winner was announced. Mallory O'Donnell, winner of the Springboro Optimist Club's contest, was selected as this year's Ohio District Essay winner. Mallory received a scholarship in the amount of $3500.  Mallory's essay follows below. 

                                                                      Optimism: How it Connects Us
                                                                                   Word Count: 747

Find a penny, pick it up. All day long, you’ll have good luck. Give it to a faithful friend:
then, your luck will never end.

I wouldn’t say I’m the superstitious type, but isn’t it fun to imagine a penny bringing you
good luck if you stumble upon one by chance? I think so. I once took the saying literally, that
whenever I found a penny on the ground and recited the saying, my luck would change and my
day would miraculously get better.

Now I know it wasn’t just money that I picked up. Everything I am I have learned from
my family, friends, and people I’ve met throughout my life. Whenever I see pennies, I think of
all the ways humanity is connected and how human qualities are shared. Each little aspect I’ve
gathered from the people around me has blended into who I am today. I will continue to pick up
“pennies” and pass them along throughout my life.

Those pennies are evidence of the optimism that connects us. I once heard that if you have your mother’s smile or your dad’s eyes, they are together within you. My face, and who I am, is a blend of each of my parents. They have each given me “pennies” that I can pass on.

My father consistently shows his love through giving. As a kid, I wished to join him with
a cup of coffee in the mornings despite his warnings that it would “stunt my growth” and make
me bounce off the walls in a caffeinated haze. Every so often, he would sacrifice a few sips from
his cup. These small sacrifices demonstrated his willingness to part with something he cherished if it meant that I felt valued. Since experiencing more of life on my own, I now understand the importance of self-sacrifice to connect with people you care about. I carry my father’s “penny” close to my heart.

Like many little girls, growing up I wanted to be like my mother. I admired her jewelry
and how she did her makeup. Even after all the time I spent studying her, I’ve learned more
about her in the past two years than I have my whole life. Twice a month, while we clean my
grandfather’s house, we talk. During that time, I knew I could talk to her with no fear of
judgment. Her decisiveness and candor is inspiring. I now realize the importance for a woman to have a firm grasp on her beliefs. She’s helped me understand that it isn’t wrong to do what’s best for yourself. I admire how my mother is such a bold and strong woman. I bear her “penny” near my head.

I have also gained “pennies” from my peers. The day I received my license, only one
friend was brave enough to be my passenger. Two years later, I have driven her around about one thousand times. Each time I drop her off, without fail, she says “Drive safe. Let me know when you get home.” The first few times she said this, I sat there puzzled. Eventually, I grew to look forward to hearing her say these words because I knew it meant she valued my well-being. These few words hold so much love. I now find myself repeating it, and it’s become a part of who I am. I carry her “penny” to pass it on and make the next person feel as appreciated as the first time I heard it.

When I think about the different “pennies” I’ve picked up, I recall all that I’ve learned
from each one. Though each “penny” may not bring me good luck, perhaps it just means that it
brings me good nature, something that has to be shared with other people.

Although a penny may serve as a physical reminder that everyone is capable of finding
the good in life, there are several reminders in our daily lives that are often overlooked. There is
a light found within each person, whether that be a passing smile, holding the door open for a
stranger, or exchanging compliments. Pennies may not carry as much monetary value as they
used to, but recognizing the good in life will never lose its value as long as we share it with the
people around us.

Find a penny, pick it up. Carry it with you, fill your cup. Share it all with faithful friends:
then, a rich life is found in the end.

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