John Gile opens essay contest to student writers

Author John Gile has initiated a contest for student writers as a follow-up activity emanating from reading and writing programs he has developed.

Recently, the guest of honor at his 90th birthday celebration was asked to cite the biggest change he has seen in his lifetime. Technology was the expected answer—GPS, cell phones, computers, PDAs, space travel. Instead, he said the biggest change he has noticed is a decline in civility. “People don’t show respect for each other anymore.”

An essay contest encouraging children to think about, talk about and write about showing respect for themselves and others can be a useful tool for countering negative influences.

The essay contest started Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 2007, and will end on Earth Day, April 22, 2007. Valentine’s Day kicked off the essay contest because Valentine’s Day is a time when people talk about love, both ersatz and real, and because respect is an integral part of love. Earth Day will conclude the essay contest because Earth Day is a time when people talk about caring for the earth, a way we can show respect for each other and for future generations.

The essay contest asks students to answer the following question in 100 to 300 words: “How and why do I show respect for the people and places in my life?” The question may be answered by individual students or as a collaborative class effort submitted by teachers.

The contest is open to all students in grades K-8 in the United States. Submissions must be postmarked no later than midnight Earth Day, April 22, 2007, and sent to Essay Contest c/o JCG/United Publishing, Box 2321, Loves Park, IL 61131. Winners will be notified on or before May 11, 2007. The student whose essay wins first prize will receive $1,000. Second prize is $500. Essay entries are eligible for five additional $100 prizes.

Winners will be chosen by author John Gile, and every student at the first prize winner’s school will receive a complimentary copy of his award-winning book The First Forest (, a fable reminding readers “that peace and harmony flow from an attitude of grateful appreciation for the gifts we receive and a respect for the need and right of others to share in those gifts, also.” (Author’s note) Every school with students submitting entries will be eligible for a drawing to receive more than $1,500 in writing enrichment programs—presented to more than 500,000 in 39 states, Europe and New Zealand—by the author.

For more information about the contest, call (815) 968-6601.

from the March 28-April 3, 2007, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!