Essayists Awarded

Essayists Awarded

Students From Armstrong, Dogwood and Forest Edge elementary schools received awards for their winning entries in the 3rd Annual Character Counts “Do The Right Thing” Essay & Poster Contest at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration at South Lakes High School.

Students wrote either a 1,000-word essay about a person in the Reston Community who practices the Six Pillars of Character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship, or designed a poster with a scene of someone doing the right thing as they practice the Six Pillars of Character.

This year’s contest was sponsored by SkateQuest and The Business Bank. Essay contest winners include:

Armstrong Elementary

5th Grade — Stephen Dickerson, Soikiki Ogolo and Dory Zimmerman

6th Grade — Ashley Jensen, Lauren Sullivan and Chris Haberland

Dogwood Elementary

5th Grade — Shawn Rana, BJ Bordley and Christina Ph Kim Le.

Forest Edge Elementary

6th Grade — Victor Yang.

Poster contest winners include:

Dogwood Elementary School

4th Grade — Katie Tangen, Li-Chang Wang and Marlena Castro

Forest Edge Elementary

4th Grade — Sara Chaudhuri, Jessica Hawken, Will Sherman, Meghan Anand, Shannon Storey and Diana Fleeter.

Contest winners will read their essays at Barnes & Noble Book Store in Spectrum Town Center on Feb. 8 at 4 p.m.

Winning Posters will be on display at Appalachian Spring in Reston Town Center from Saturday, Feb. 1 through Saturday, Feb. 15.

Some of the winning essays:

The Miracle Worker

Since I was born, my mom has been there to encourage me, teach me, and put dinner on the table. She’s always rushing around to help me in any way possible. Whether it is racing me to a soccer game or taking me out to a fast-food restaurant, my mom is always there. She shows responsibility, respect, trustworthiness, and is caring. I love my mom and I hope we stay side by side for as long as we can.

If I rated my mom on a scale from 1 to 10 for responsibility, I’d give her a quick 11. She teaches as a general music teacher at an elementary school. She has to juggle my, my brother’s, and my dad’s schedule. She also has to plan events for her school. Every year, she puts together a few songs for her students to sing at an “International Night” at her school. That’s probably the busiest time of the season for her. It takes a lot of responsibility to control 100 kids at a time, and to keep them quiet for a performance. To remember her and her family’s schedule, my mom uses a book shaped planner/binder that she takes everywhere. It allows my mom to be even more organized than she already is. My mom is a responsible, well-organized person.

A respectful person can make a wonderful parent. She sets a great example for my brother and me. She speaks kindly to her fellow teachers and she treats all of her students equally and fairly. She can always establish a compromise or friendship. She also never uses vulgar language, which is probably why I don’t either. My mom is respectful even to people that respectful to her.

My mom is one person that I know that I can forever trust. She is loyal by keeping secrets and helping you in times of need. She’ll keep secrets from my brother about what I got him for Christmas or his birthday. If she promises you something, she’ll always keep her word. Sometimes, she borrows books or instruments of mine for her music class. I can’t think of one time that my mom has not returned whatever she has borrowed. She’s a person of her word.

The trait that I admire most about my mom is how caring she is. Whatever my problem could be, my mom always shows she’s listening by helping me trudge through it. She always seems to be thinking of people and their needs, even when they are not present. One time, I lost a band book that I needed for school. While I was away at a piano lesson, she specifically went out to Fox’s Music Company to buy my book. She shows she cares by going to concerts, recitals, and soccer games of mine. She cares for me nonstop throughout the day.

My mom is great as a teacher and parent. She has made me a better person just by teaching me common sense. I have the best mom a kid could have.

— Chris Haberland, Mrs. Heiman’s 6th grade class, Armstrong Elementary

Diane Sullivan

I have known Diane ever since I was a baby. She is a muralist, an excellent person, and a great friend. Caring is one of her best traits. When I’m having trouble at school, she’ll help me and give me advice. Responsibility, trustworthiness, fairness, citizenship, and respect are just a few more characteristics.

Caring is a talent of hers, not a characteristic. She always finds time to help me with my homework, even if she’s doing something else important. Every Wednesday at Kendrick Court, she has an art class. Her class is so popular that she has too many people and many more wanting to join. The crafts they do are really interesting and fun. Sometimes she’ll bring one home for me to do! Another caring act is when I tell her something or ask her something I know she will always understand. I mainly talk to her about school but sometimes I talk to her about things going on in gymnastics too. I know I can always count on her to help me.

I can always count on her to get school supplies when I need them. Right now I’m learning how to type faster. I love to type and I am very happy to learn more about it. Soon I will start learning how to play piano. She is a great piano player and I know I will learn a lot from her. Diane is a very fair person especially with her family. If there is a game with only four players or if there are only four of something she will always give hers up. Sometimes I think my brothers go in my room and if something is wrong she will usually say she did it and will take the blame instead of blaming it on my brothers.

Citizenship is another one of her excellent traits. Every month she’ll donate money, toys, and clothes to charity. She does her best to help out in school. She’s a room parent in the first grade, a sixth grade coordinator, and a fourth grade helper. When she gets her master’s degree, she wants to become an ombudsman. I know that she will be very good at it. Right now she has an art class at Kendrick Court for $2 a person. She loves all of her students and will keep going until she is done with school. She shows wonderful citizenship.

Diane is very respectful and teaches my brothers and me how to be more respectful. She breaks up word fights between my brothers and sometimes me. When we get in trouble she never hits us, even if we’re in big trouble. She’ll respect how I feel when I talk to her about something. She will usually give me advice and it works!

Caring, responsibility, trustworthiness, fairness, citizenship, and respect are excellent traits of Diane. She does her best and is a great artist. And best of all she’s my mom!

— Lauren Sullivan, Mrs. Heiman’s 6th grade class, Armstrong Elementary

Pillars of Character


I think my dad does not cheat or deceive. Instead he helps his family members in problems. He definitely does not steal. Whenever I say a promise to him he listens. He doesn’t continue to do his work, he listens to me. My dad could never forget a promise. My dad has a lot of courage in his heart. He sticks up for his friends that need his help. He never does bad or horrible things. He always tries to help. He also stands up for his family members and friends. My dad always does the right thing. My dad is one of the most honest people I know. He never lies about anything. He always tells the truth as long as he lives.


Every time a person of high honor comes by him, he shakes his/her hand with respect. He never does anything mean or bad. He treats others the way he wants to be treated. A good manner is one of his specialties. If a person gave him a gift, he would’ve said, “Thank you.” My dad has never ever used a bad word and he never will, no matter what. He would just calm down, and he is always considerate of people’s feelings. He never tries to hurt someone’s feelings. Instead he just calms down and tries to be friends with them. My dad could never ever hurt or try to threaten someone. It’s as if it was one of his allergies. My dad would’ve just cooled down. If you know what I mean. He never gets angry. He never gets into any disagreements. He would just agree with that person. My dad is well respected himself and he will continue to respect people.


My dad is very responsible for himself. He knows what he is supposed to do, drive a limousine. He works day and night and always tries his best. If he failed something on his big test, he could still keep on trying, and guess what? He’ll try twice as hard too. Whenever a special person comes to his limousine and tells my dad where to depart, my dad doesn’t fool around. He tries hard to go to that place without a sweat. Piece of cake. On every car test, he tries his best to finish the test. He doesn’t rush or anything. He just takes his time and tries his best. Every time he knows what he is supposed to do. He always uses his self-control. He’ll calm down, and he always thinks before he acts. Always. He never punches without thinking. Whenever he does something wrong he considers the consequences. He is a very good responsible man. He never gives up. He always tries his best. Fairness

Whenever my family and I play games together we don’t cheat. We always play by the rules. My dad always plays by the rules, in any sport or game. If someone didn’t play by the rule, there would be a really big fight. My dad always plays by the rules, no matter what, and he always takes turns, in all games and in other life problems. He always listens to everyone, like me. Whenever I say our family should watch a movie he listens. He doesn’t start to continue to read the newspaper, he listens. No wonder he’s so smart. My dad would never blame anyone carelessly. That’s like a tattle-taler, and my dad is not a tattle-taler. He never takes advantage of anyone, remember, never underestimate a person. If you underestimate a person you really won’t be friends with them. My dad has never underestimated a person in his life. No wonder he has so much friends.


You would not believe how much my dad takes care of my brother and me. Well, on the other hand, my mom takes care of my brother and me too, but I’m talking about my dad right now. My dad really does take care of other people. My dad is very kind too. He even buys me toys! Now, let’s get back to what I was talking about. My dad really helps people too. In needs like coats, foods, etc. My dad is very caring about his family, other people, and my brother and I. Oh did I forget, he cares about my Mom too. This whole caring thing is one of his specialties. I wonder if he’s Superman. This just might be interesting.


My dad always does his share to make the school and community better. He always cooperates in anything. My dad is also a very good neighbor. He obeys laws and rules. My dad is always protective of the environment. He doesn’t pollute.

He loves nature too. Sometimes I even walk with him at night. A good person doesn’t throw anything outside. A bad person does. My dad is definitely a good person. My dad is always a good citizen.

— Shawn Rana, Mrs. Garofalo’s 5th grade class, Dogwood Elementary