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Dear Educator/Parent/Guardian,

What is the

This contest is about character. Character is a product of our habits, attitudes, choices, and conduct developed over time. Character has to be taught and modeled. Our children need to know what it means to be good and to make ethical decisions. They need to learn and practice such character traits like honesty, respect, responsibility, courage, perseverance, to name a few. We do not have to tell you that in life - character matters.

The Character Matters Essay Contest provides a platform for insightful discussions and reflections on experiences that call for honesty, respect, responsibility, courage, self-discipline, and many other virtues. All students have encountered various experiences in their lives where their character has been tested, inspired, and strengthened. This essay contest provides students an opportunity for conscious reflection on these experiences.

Schools and communities across this and other countries are taking renewed interest in the character development of children and youth. Our federal government has funded character education programs in most states. Schools and school districts in partnership with community agencies have implemented character education programs.

How does the contest work?

At USD’s Character Development Center we are engaged in several partnership projects designed to promote the character development of children and youth. For the past three years, we have sponsored an essay contest. The Character Matters Essay Contest (formerly called the Laws of Life Essay Contest) is our fifth annual contest for students in grades 3-12 in San Diego & Imperial Counties. We believe that writing is one the most difficult of all academic skills. Good writing is the cumulative result of all our learning, feelings, imaginings and life experiences. It is hard! The contest provides experiences in narrative writing, and fulfills portions of the California Standards for writing, which require narrative writing at all grade levels. The Character Matters Essay Contest encourages students to think about character, to observe people demonstrating both good and bad character traits, to practice being people of good character and then to reflect on the virtues that guide their lives. We want them to write about it as well. This contest is one powerful impetus to help students know, understand, practice and do positives things - and then to write about them. Many teachers call the contest an excellent motivator for writing and for promoting the values at their school. Parents of winning students praise the contest for focusing on the values they foster in their homes. On behalf of the educators, administrators, and parents who serve on the CDC board, I encourage you to have your students/children participate in this important and challenging essay contest. Sincerely, Edward F. DeRoche, Ph.D. Director, Character Development Center

• There are three contest divisions: elementary, middle school and high school.

• Students in grades 3-12 in public and private schools in San Diego and Imperial Counties are eligible. • Essays may be word-processed or handwritten. They may be of any length; 2 to 4 pages is typical. • Essays will be judged on content, on writing style, insight and importance of the story, and on the emphasis on character. Judges are impartial volunteers that include teachers and character education graduate students from the School of Education at the University of San Diego.

What writing prompts have been used successfully? 1. 2. 3. 4.


Who has been the most important person in your life in helping you establish your values? Describe how that person influenced your character. Describe a personal experience that helped you show some character traits/values such as respect, responsibility, courage, honesty, or selfdiscipline. How has a figure in history or a famous person helped you better understand the importance of character in your life? How has a book, poem, film, or piece of art or music helped you appreciate how values influence your actions and behavior? How have values such as respect, responsibility, courage, honesty, or self-discipline influenced what you do and decisions you have made?

What are the awards? For each of the three categories, there are three awards. First place winners receive a plaque and $100. Second place winners receive a certificate and $75. Third place winners receive a certificate and $50. In addition each studentwinner may invite his/her teacher and four family members to the awards luncheon at no cost. Teachers of award-winners also receive a gift. This year the awards luncheon will be held on the University of San Diego‘s campus on Saturday, June 24th from 12:00 to 2:30pm.

2006 Character Matters Essay Contest Official Entry Form

Please complete the following form and attach to each essay. Make sure student name appears only on this cover sheet and nowhere else in the essay.

Essay Title: ____________________________________________

Grades 3-12

Student Name: _____________________________Grade: _______ Student Address: ________________________________________

Deadline: April 21, 2006

____________________________________________________ Student Phone Number: ___________________________________ Teacher’s Name: ____________________________ Date: _______ School Name, Address and Phone Number: _____________________

_____________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________ Directions for the teacher: 1. Select the top two or three essays from your class. 2. Fill out an entry form for each essay and attach it to the back of the essay. 3. Be sure to make a copy of the students’ essays and the entry forms before mailing. 4. Entries must be postmarked by Friday, April 21, 2006. 5. Students and their teachers will receive letters notifying them that they have submitted the winning essay and inviting them to a luncheon at USD, where they will be honored. 6. Mail each completed form and essay to:

CDC Character Matters Essay Contest USD, SOLES, Rm 303 5998 Alcala Park San Diego, CA. 92110 All entries become the property of The School of Leadership and Education Sciences and may be published in any chosen venue. If the author wishes to remain anonymous, the author’s name will not be published.

phone 619-260-2250 website

Character Development Center

University of San Diego School of Leadership & Education Sciences 5998 Alcala Park, San Diego, CA. 92110

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