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Heritage Laws of Life winners honored
Pictured left to right: Diane Adoma, Thua Barlay, junior Leah Poyotte, freshman Jaime Gray, sophomore Tarrina Foster, school board Chairman Jim McBrayer. (Not pictured, senior Oralia Castro)

The Conyers Rotary Club honored local high school participants of the Laws of Life contest and celebrated Heritage High freshman Jamie Gray, who placed third in the statewide Laws of Life Essay Contest. (To read Gray's moving essay, see below or click on PDF of winning essays attached to article.)

The Georgia Laws of Life Essay Contest is a state-wide essay, character-values based contest for high school students where they select a "Law of Life" (wise saying or quote) and write an essay on how the maxim applies to their lives. Nearly 40,000 Law of Life essays were written in Georgia from 49 schools, with $17,000 total awarded. Each grade level winner receives a $50 cash award.

School Contest Chair Laura Daniel, Conyers Rotary Youth Director Diane Daniels-Adoma, Conyers Rotary Club President Thua Barlay, along with Rockdale school board Chairman Jim McBrayer, presented the awards April 16.

Adoma said, "This is the first time that one of our students at Heritage have placed in the state competition in the past three years and we congratulate Jamie on her essay and wish her well in her future endeavors. It is truly a collaborative team effort with teachers, counselors, parents, business leaders and the Conyers Rotary Club."


Jaime Gray's Essay on Ezekiel 34:26 "There will be showers of blessings"

The tears hit my face like a midday Georgia thunderstorm - little sprinkles, then, BAM! The floodgates of heaven opened. I'd made up my mind. I was fed up with the bullies, my eating disorder, living, breathing, being. I was going to take my life that night. Just then, a familiar face that hadn't been an ally before walked up and held a conversation with me that would go on to change the rest of my life.

"Hey Jamie, thanks for holding down the alto section today; you guys were great! Your hair is so pretty today! You are such a beautiful girl! Always remember that."

I was stunned. After that short, 20-second conversation, I recalled one of my favorite Bible verses: "I will bless my people and their homes around my holy hill. And in the proper season I will send the showers they need. There will be showers of blessing."

All throughout most of my childhood, I was that girl. The one whose paper you cheat with, the one who gave up just about anything to fit in. I was bullied, pushed around, harassed, and even attacked by the hateful words of the "in-crowd." Because I was "smart" enough to let bygones be bygones, my anger sat under the surface, festering, boiling. Like a lot of people, I turned to food for help and a balm for my soul. I ate a chip for every mean word, a scoop of ice cream for every hurtful glare.

I'd stopped praying. God didn't seem to be working fast enough for me. The only thing I still cared about was chorus. Singing was my refuge. For that short, 55-minute class, I could be me, the happy me, the me who still cared, the me who always had a song in her heart.

Although singing put an awe-inspiring joy inside me, I was unknown, irrelevant, and my teacher and I lacked a connection even cats and dogs shared. There was nothing. No emotion. No connection. And I intended to keep it that way. She pushed and pushed and pushed to try to get to know me, but I pushed harder, and her efforts were useless against the wall I'd built up to protect myself from trusting anyone. This teacher's name was Miss Phillips. She was young, had great style, and didn't carry the big, charcoal colored circles under her eyes like a lot of educators I knew. She made chorus enjoyable, and though I tried to stop her, she tried to get to know the real me.

But, as I said, the bullying got worse, and I'd had it. I stopped trying altogether. I was done with it all. That morning, I left a note for each member of my family and went to school. It was a horrible day, per usual.

When I got to chorus, however, my whole life changed with a less than 20-second conversation. After her flood of compliments, all I could sputter out was, "Oh thank you, Miss Phillips, see you tomorrow!"

And I would. I would see her tomorrow. I would see the world tomorrow. In a short 20 seconds, she turned my whole life around. I gained a whole new sense of self that I still have today. I overcame my bullies and beat my eating disorder. I still have bad days here and there, but for now, I can't complain. I am so grateful for what Miss Phillips did for me that day and I make sure she knows it. I am forever in debt to her, because truthfully, if it wasn't for her, I wouldn't be here.

This is a testament of true love from God. He saw and heard my silent heart weeping and he answered my prayers. He knew in that moment I needed that push, that "right on time" blessing. This goes to show that God hears, sees, and feels the contents of my heart, and in due time, will always give the right blessing.