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How Dreams Lead to Success
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Essay winners Kenzie Bonnett (L), Lisa Tower (M) and Judy Shannon (R)
flanked by Port Stanley Optimist Club executive members

"How Dreams Lead to Success" was the topic for this year's Port Stanley Optimist Club's essay contest. On April 3rd, 2014 the three winners and their families joined the Optimists for a celebratory dinner, a reading of the essays, and the presentation of awards. The first prize winner showed a gift in writing in her essay quite rare in one so young.

Lisa Tower from Central Elgin Collegiate Institute took first prize. Her essay captures the readers attention with the first few words and holds it as Lisa describes the feelings, thoughts and perceptions of a runner from the firing of the start pistol to crossing the finish line victorious. I asked Lisa if she was a runner because she had described it as if she had herself lived the experience, as if she was writing from a place she knew well. Yes, indeed, she has run competitively in high school.

All people, no matter what stage in life, how healthy, how happy, how young or old, or any life circumstances, are all able to dream. ... It is a basic necessity of life to be able to dream to the fullest, to the ends of the earth. ... No matter the dream, the end goal, or the journey, life is what a person can make it. ... As Henry David Thoreau once said, "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined."

Kenzie Bonnett from St. Joseph's Catholic Secondary School took second prize. Kenzie has the burning desire to become an English teacher, despite career counsellors at school urging her to make another choice because there are very few teaching positions available in these times. She says being a teacher is what she has wanted to do since she was a little girl and she loves being able to help others try new things, strive harder, reach higher and realize their full potential.

Kenzie's essay starts off with a can-do attitude and quote from David Brinkley that "A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him." The bricks Kenzie is trying to use to build her dream are the adult nay-sayers in her life who tell her to be "realistic" and not to "dream too big."

The word "impossible" that comes to many adults' minds when they hear the implausible dreams of success from a younger generation, to me means "I'm possible." ... Passion and adversity is what makes dreams come true and lead to a person's accomplishments. No one has ever conquered his or her dreams by simply wishing; ... Those who do not dream do not reach success due to their lack of vision and striving to go above and beyond mediocrity. ... In the end, the pictures in your mind that appear to be no more than an unascertainable fantasy will become a tangible reality that bears the delicious fruit of success.

Our third place winner, Judy Kathleen Shannon from St. Joseph's Catholic High School, has her sights set on a career in the Canadian military. Her Plan A is Royal Military College and her Plan B is enlisting with the Canadian military. Already in the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, Judy writes that Who you will be in this world is not decided at birth. A teenager has to actually work for it ... Saying that students can be placed in two categories - those who know what they want and those who have not yet decided - it is clear from Judy's essay that dreams are the things that help a student know what they want.

I will become an officer of the Canadian military. I will travel along dirt roads, climb large hills and I will hit potholes, but I will always push forward. I will earn my place in life. I will have everything I want by following my dreams. Dreams area a part of my path to somewhere amazing.

The winner of the club level essay has gone on to the Optimist District Level, having a chance to win a $2,500.00 Scholarship for college, trade school or university of their choice. Bravo girls on three very well written essays. You all seem to be made of the stuff to make your dreams lead to your own success.

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