Young essayists win Rotary Club awards

The Farmington Rotary Club on Tuesday honored eight Farmington Public Schools eighth graders who eloquently examined the virtues of Rotary’s 4-Way Test of the Things We Think, Say or Do:

  • Is it the truth?
  • Is it fair to all concerned?
  • Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
  • Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
Rotary Essay Contest
From left: Ray Barrett (1st place), Talia Olsen (2nd place), Megan Gesse (3rd place), and Sean Sayer (4th place), all of Dunckel Middle School; Rotary club president Phil Abraham, and Farmington Superintendent of Schools George Heitsch.

Ray Barrett (1st place), Talia Olsen (2nd place), Megan Gesse (3rd place), and Sean Sayer (4th place), all of Dunckel Middle School, and East Middle School students John Ingles (1st place), Jack Sweeting (2nd place), Alexandra White (3rd place), and Julia Tatone (4th place), each received certificates during a lunch meeting at Orchard United Methodist Church in Farmington Hills. Winners also took home cash prizes.

Rotary Essay Contest
From left, East Middle School students John Ingles (1st place), Jack Sweeting (2nd place), Alexandra White (3rd place), and Julia Tatone (4th place), and Farmington Superintendent George Heitsch.

“We’re really proud of the response this year,” club president Phil Abraham said.

President-elect Lynn Morgan added that judging was particularly difficult. The club uses a points-based system to ensure fairness.

Barrett credited his English Language Arts teacher Janet Payne with encouraging him to enter the contest, which he worked on over spring break. “This raised my awareness of the club, and what they’re about,” he said.

Making that connection between Rotary and families is one of the contest’s benefits, said Superintendent George Heitsch, who attended the lunch. For students, there’s real value in getting that extra pat on the back, outside the classroom.

“It’s validation from a community group that you’re on track, and your message has meaning,” he said.

Learn more about Farmington Rotary at