Essay about respect takes fourth in state

| May 24, 2019

WARSAW – When Rebekah Unkefer was in seventh grade at Coshocton Elementary School, she wrote an essay as part of her gifted English Language Arts class that was submitted into the Laws of Life essay contest. Although she said her heart wasn’t really in the essay her teacher submitted, Unkefer was chosen as one of the top 20 essays in Central Ohio and attended the annual banquet in Columbus. Once at the banquet, Unkefer knew she wanted to participate in the contest the following year, which is open to all sixth through eighth grade students in Central Ohio. This time, Unkefer wrote about her sister who has DiGeorge Syndrome and placed fourth in the state.

Unkefer transferred to River View Junior High for her eighth grade year where they did not offer submission to the contest. However, Unkefer knew she still wanted to participate and her language arts teacher, Mrs. Ferris, agreed to submit her essay for consideration.

“It was really awesome that she could do it for me because it took a while to submit it,” said Unkefer.

The contest is hosted each year by the Better Business Bureau Center for Character Ethics and sponsored by Honda, Wendy’s, and Artina Promotional Products. However, this essay contest is a little different than others.

“It is not a typical essay contest,” said Unkefer. “They don’t care how well your essay is written. They are looking for essays that speak of value and speak from the heart.”

Unkefer said her inspiration for her essay this year was her little sister who has DiGeorge Syndrome and other health complications. She is 12 years old and has had 15 surgeries in her lifetime.

“My little sister has been made fun of her whole life,” said Unkefer. “She is an inspiration because even though she has had surgeries, she always put on a brave face and it bothers me when people treat other people differently just because they think they’re different. We are each different because we were each designed by God for a unique purpose. I never saw her as disabled. I always saw her as my sister. No matter what is said to her, she never says anything bad back to the other person. She just takes it.”

There are 21 counties in Ohio who participate in the essay contest and about 2,500 submissions annually. Out of those submissions, 20 are chosen to attend the annual banquet and awards and prizes are given to the top three in each grade and overall awards.

There is a different theme each year to the contest and this year’s theme was ‘Respect’.

“The essays are judged based on if it came from the heart, this is personal to them,” said Unkefer. “They wanted to see personality in the essay.”

Unkefer said she enjoys writing.

“I really enjoy it more if I get to pick the topic,” said Unkefer. “When we get to be creative with it and dig deep. Like when I write essays, I like to dig deep and that makes people remember it. I want people to remember the essays that I write. I like to write essays people will never forget.”

Unkefer said she is really proud of the essay she wrote for the contest.

“Everyone came up to me and told me how much they love it [the essay],” said Unkefer. “I’m really proud of this essay. It shows the things that I know about people with disabilities and I knew we are all equal at a young age, younger than most people. I really like that it can make a difference when people read it.”

Unkefer currently would like to become either an art teacher or a teacher who works with students with disabilities.

“The way they [teachers] work with those students and treat those students show they care about them,” said Unkefer. “I don’t think people realize it doesn’t take a lot to make a difference in people’s lives, so they don’t try.”

Unkefer starts her essay with words that her sister has been called by other people over the years and asks the reader to put themselves in her sister’s shoes.

“I think they will read the words in the beginning of the essay and I feel like they will think about that,” said Unkefer. “How would I feel if I were called these really awful things? I hope they think, I wouldn’t want people talking about me this way and I hope they realize we are all the same and we’re all equal. I hope if they see someone being made fun of that they would stick up for that person and maybe someone would see that and start a chain reaction.”

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Category: Education

About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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