Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned? That is Rotary’s “Four-Way Test,” and students in the eighth-grade classes at La Cumbre Junior High School prepared essays explaining how the Four-Way Test principles apply to their daily lives.

The Rotary Club of Santa Barbara North sponsored the essay writing contest in which students were asked to apply the Four-Way Test to their lives. More than 260 students responded, and the essays were subjected to a writing rubric and judged by three members of the Rotary Club.

The first-place winner was Katya Tashma-Rapp ($250), who wrote an essay about a tragic girl whose life was ruined by those around her who practiced an absence of the principles of the Four-Way Test. Second place was awarded to Lauren Sousa ($175), who wrote about the dilemma associated with the problem of wanting to protect a friend while being tempted to ignore the truth regarding a car accident. The Four-Way Test underscored her response. Third place was awarded to Eavy Barbieux ($75), who wrote about the problem faced by teenagers when they decide to spread rumors about other teenagers. By applying the Four-Way Test, she could see the harm done by spreading rumors.

The winning students read their essays before the Rotarians and received certificates plus debit cards for their monetary award at the club’s noon meeting at Harry’s Plaza Café. Each student also had a parent present for the reading.

Dr. Blas Garza, youth services director for the Rotary Club, said he was really impressed with the logic that all the students used in presenting their case and with their exceptionally good use of literary skills. One surprise was finding out that all three winning students were taught by teacher Katie Pelle. She was recognized with a certificate for being an outstanding teacher.

— Terry Straehley is public relations director for Rotary Club of Santa Barbara North.