• The Rotary Club of Spruce Pine 4-Way Essay contest winners for 2019 are seventh-graders, from left, Finley Revels, of Harris Middle School (tied for third place and winner of $50), Rachel van Brederode, of Bowman Middle School (first place and winner of $200), Elijah Laws, of Harris Middle School (tied for third place and winner of $50) and Connor Warren, of Harris Middle School (second place and winner of $100). (Brandon Roberts/MNJ)
    The Rotary Club of Spruce Pine 4-Way Essay contest winners for 2019 are seventh-graders, from left, Finley Revels, of Harris Middle School (tied for third place and winner of $50), Rachel van Brederode, of Bowman Middle School (first place and winner of $200), Elijah Laws, of Harris Middle School (tied for third place and winner of $50) and Connor Warren, of Harris Middle School (second place and winner of $100). (Brandon Roberts/MNJ)

Rotary Club picks 4-Way Essay Contest winners

Nearly 80 Mitchell County seventh-graders participated in this year’s 4-Way Essay Contest given by the Rotary Club of Spruce Pine. 

The students are asked to write about Rotary’s 4-Way Test: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and friendship? Will it be beneficial to all concerned? 

Students take these four questions and write about how the test can be applied to their own lives. 

This year’s winners were Rachel van Brederode, of Bowman Middle School, who won first place and $200; Connor Warren, of Harris Middle School, who won second place and $100; and Finley Revels and Elijah Laws, both of Harris Middle School, who tied for third place and each won $50.

This year’s essays were judged by Rotarians Starli McDowell, Cindy Lindsey and Brandon Roberts.


Editor’s note: To maintain their integrity, the following essays were edited only for clarity.


Rachel van Brederode

I know it is really the truth that a big problem in schools today is people being judged by others. I also know it seems so tiny and harmless, but the results can be really bleak. When I found out about the Four-Way Test, my teacher helped me to understand I have already been using these principles in my own life. And though I may have used other names for the “way,” it is good to know I have been using a fair “Four-Way Test to make decisions and choices every day. 

I try to be fair to everyone concerned, but some people think because a person isn’t like them it is OK to judge them and act derogatory toward them. Maybe they think they have a reason to dislike them? Even though sometimes I catch myself doing the same thing. I think about this question: is it fair for us to judge and to be judged? If we can just learn to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. Think about how it would make us feel if we were the one who is being looked down on; maybe because of something we can’t even help, like having to wear the same outfit two days in a row or if we couldn’t take a shower. 

When I have judged, I felt like I was in a bad mood, and looked for the flaws in people instead of the good things. This is definitely what is happening in schools because not every group is friendly to others, and some people just don’t get along with other people. And there are kids out there who are just afraid to stand up for other kids. They don’t want to be admonished for speaking up. It is really tough to speak up and not get made fun of.

But couldn’t it build better friendships if we did? People always have that one group they hang out with, but what would happen if kids quit jumping to conclusions about people? What if they could be reminded to be more understanding, possibly more friendships would build. Even if, we don’t hang out with everybody, we could still practice a little delicacy when dealing with others; learn how to empathize with others, rather than always criticizing.

Of course, this would be beneficial to all concerned! I think lots of kids and teens need to know it isn’t a bad thing to stand up or tell someone about the issues going on in school. Teachers and parents should be aware and know how to stop it before it gets taken to a whole different level. We have a great Beta Club in our school, maybe we could help get involved in stopping this. 

Sadly, rather than getting better, judgment is intensifying. This is why this topic needs attention now because it could turn into bullying. If it is not stopped before it gets to that it could lead to depression, and it could get to the verge of suicidal thoughts, and kids even committing suicide. Kids could be very competent problem solvers in stopping this before it reaches a new and dangerous level. I have learned through the 4-way test, that there are ways to learn to talk to each other about our feelings. Wouldn’t it be better, if instead of mutilating someone’s self-esteem, to stand together to help them have fewer problems and make them feel better about themselves? 

Connor Warren

I was excitedly on my way to Pinehurst to play Pinehurst No. 1, a great course, in a tournament. There was some tough competition,  but I had a chance. When we arrived at the course, I went to the driving range to get warmed up. The temperature was seventy three degrees with no wind and I was ready. 

I finished hitting and went to the putting green.  I was in the fourth group to tee off. My putting was looking good, and so were my drives. It was about time to head over to the tee box, so I put my putter back in my bag and walked over. I was playing with my friends Alex and Landon, who are both good golfers. I can shoot in the mid-70’s, but we will see how today goes. 

Alex hit first, Landon second, and then me. Landon and Alex both hit great drives up the center of the fairway. Then, my turn. I made good contact with the ball, but it hooked left into the woods. I thought, “Well, this is going to be a bad day.” I took an unplayable and hit a seven iron onto the green. I  putted and ended with a double bogey, and Landon and Alex both got pars. After the first mishap, my game improved.  I was playing really good, getting a lot pars and a couple of birdies. 

We were coming down to the final two holes. I was one over par and they were both two over, and I was feeling good. The seventeenth hole was a par three, so I pulled out my nine iron and hit the ball right beside the flag. Alex and Landon ended up making pars and I birdied. This means I was even heading into the last hole and they were two over. My drive faded right and took a bad kick into the woods. They hit their drives perfect. I got over to my ball and it was almost out of bounds. I had a tough shot into the green with some tree limbs in my backswing. I started my backswing and hit a limb which caused me to miss the ball. I looked over to Landon and Alex, but they didn’t see my shot. I quickly hit again and the ball rolled onto the green and I had a nice birdie putt. We all ended up parring, so that means I won! Then I remembered I missed the ball back in the woods, and golf rules state that all swings count.  

We went to turn our scores in and I felt awful about cheating and I felt like I needed to tell someone. The rules official took our scores and I was wondering whether to tell him or not. I thought to myself “Is it truthful?” If I tell him the truth, then I wouldn’t win, but I would be doing the right thing. “Is it fair to all concerned?” It wouldn’t be fair to my friends that I won by cheating, when they should have won fair and square. “Will it build goodwill and better friendships?” I could still be friends with Alex and Landon if I told the rules official the truth,  but if I didn’t and they find out, then our friendship could be ruined. “Will it be beneficial to all concerned?” It will be beneficial to Landon and Alex because they would tie for the win, but I would be disqualified from the tournament. 

I finally came to the conclusion that I should tell the rules official what I had done. I told him the truth, even though it hurt to not win. He said,  “Thank you for being truthful, but I have to disqualify you.”  Even though I had owned up to my mistake, I hadn’t done it when I was supposed to, which meant disqualification instead of penalization.  Even though it really stunk, I felt good knowing I had told the truth, shown goodwill and friendship, been fair, and benefited all concerned.  I learned I should always apply the four way test to any decision and I will always be a winner.



Elijah Laws

We should consider the importance of truth in every aspect of life. Truth has stability and always stands. There is no weakness in truth. Truth should come first in everyday life. Truth always stands and builds on itself. 

When applying Truth you never have to hide behind your previous words. Truth has positive effects, like a chain reaction on you and the people around you. There is no better characteristic than being truthful. The reason I want to emphasize truth so much is because truth to me is a Person, a Person that indwells me being the Lord Jesus Christ.

Fair means that what you are doing is in line with the rules and standards of life.

Truth is fair to all concerned because it allows there to no division among peers. Everyone would be making good choices in public and in their everyday life. Truth is fair because everyone would have the choice to make a good decision. Truth is not lawlessness. Everyone should be accountable for their actions. 

Truth will build goodwill and friendship because everyone would be honest. There would be nothing hidden between friends and peers to ruin your relationship with others.

Everyone would work together for the greater good, in their school and in their community. The goodwill would spread throughout the community and nobody would worry about crime.

Truth is beneficial to everyone concerned because it only brings positive outcomes.  The community we live in would be safer and more productive and our school would have better performance and safety for all. 

Truth is essential for all people involved and without the Lord Jesus Christ, there would be no discernment so always keep this saying in mind.

“The truth will make you free.”



Finley Revels

I was in Science when our teacher surprised us with a  quiz. I had not studied at all. I could tell other people looked really shocked after hearing this, while he was passing out the paper, I looked over to my partner who was sitting beside me, she apparently studied for this quiz. I was getting nervous about it I didn’t want to make a bad grade, it would bring my whole entire grade down. So I started thinking about cheating off her paper. 

But was I being fair? No, I wasn’t being fair to my partner or myself. 

Would this decision bring goodwill and better friendships? No, it wouldn’t bring any of that if I cheated. I was getting really anxious while I was deciding if I should cheat, we were about to start. Was I being truthful by cheating? No, I wasn’t being truthful if I was cheating, I wasn’t being truthful to our teacher not to cheat or we would get a worse grade. Finally, I decided it would be better if I just tried my hardest. After the quiz, I actually felt better about it. Awhile after we had finished, our teacher told us this wasn’t going to be a grade it was a practice and we should probably study in case there was an actual quiz. My advice would always be truthful and fair, it would produce a better reaction than cheating. 

My advice is always truthful and fair no matter what, I know a lot of people cheat,  it’s better to just try than give up and cheat. When you don’t cheat it makes you feel better.

The MItchell News

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Spruce Pine, NC 28777 
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