Three Westerville students have advanced as finalists in the state's Laws of Life essay contest.

Three Westerville students have advanced as finalists in the state's Laws of Life essay contest.

The contest began in 1987 as a way for students to articulate and defend their principles and beliefs through writing.

Westerville North High School seniors Avery Pierson and Christopher Scheren and Genoa Middle School eighth-grader Arianna Kellum are the three state finalists from the district.

Liz Glenn, literature and humanities teacher at North, taught both Pierson and Scheren. The students had to write an essay for a class assignment, but could also submit their piece for the contest.

Glenn said she assigns this essay to her classes so students learn to delve deep inside and express strong thoughts in their writing.

"It's a student's ability to look into their own heart, mind and soul and reveal a heartfelt experience," Glenn said.

By contest rules, the school district had to limit how many students could apply to the essay contest. Pierson and Scheren were unable to comment about their essays, but Glenn said their work stood out.

"Great insight, great humanity and (I am) always in awe at the students' ability to capture and share an experience so heartfelt and life-changing," Glenn said.

Many students write about topics that made an impact on their lives, such as mission trips, volunteer activities or even applying philosophy to their young lives.

Pierson's essay was titled Power of Perseverance. She looked at how her dedication to running has influenced her life in more ways than one. Scheren wrote about his role as a companion to a World War II Purple Heart recipient in his essay, Flight of Honor.

Debbie Pellington, district coordinator for the Laws of Life Essay contest for the middle schools, read the submissions from middle school essay applicants. She was impressed by Kellum's essay.

"I'm so glad that I was not a judge," Pellington said. "Arianna's essay was poignant and touching and embraced the contest title 'Laws of Life.' "

Kellum said her essay was about helping others and becoming sympathetic to other people's situations. She also discovered the lesson of treating others the way you want to be treated, she said.

She is also happy her essay made it to the finals.

"I am proud of myself because I had been having trouble with writing and this essay came from the heart," Kellum said. "I didn't stop to think about what people might think of the essay. I just typed what I felt were my laws of life and I was happy to have this opportunity."

Contest winners could receive a financial prize. The first-place winner wins up to $500.

Laws of Life Essay contest winners will be announced at a banquet on May 1.