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The Suburbanite
  • Local sisters win top essay award years apart

  • Winning is a family affair for the Dixon sisters of Green.

    Jessica Dixon, a senior at Green High School, recently followed in the footsteps of her older sister Julia Dixon, who won the Ohio Laws of Life Essay Contest in 2007.

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  • Winning is a family affair for the Dixon sisters of Green.
    Jessica Dixon, a senior at Green High School, recently followed in the footsteps of her older sister Julia Dixon, who won the Ohio Laws of Life Essay Contest in 2007.
    The Laws of Life Contest is a statewide competition in which students submit essays about the laws or values by which they live their lives. There are thousands of essays written each year in school districts across Ohio, and the best are submitted for competition at the state level. The competition is divided into high school and middle school divisions.
    Writing always has been part of the girls’ lives. Their mother, Tammy Dixon, started asking them to write down everything they said, even before they could read.
    “I started them early on writing, I had just write down things and not worry about spelling,” Tammy said.
    Many of these early writing experiences were saved in small booklets that the girls can look back on.
    Julia’s essay was about an incident that occurred when she was in fifth grade. Several boys were picking on another girl on the bus, and Julia stood up for her.
    “In standing up for the girl, I also became a target of the boys, but felt it was worth the effort,” Julia wrote.
    Eventually, she went to the school counselor to get help to stop the bullying. Afterward, she took the younger girl under her wing.
    Jessica’s essay was about an unflattering note she wrote about a student teacher she had in middle school. The teacher intercepted and read the note and went into the hallway and started crying.
    “I really felt bad when I heard her crying,” Jessica said. “The next day the whole class had to write an essay about the incident, and I decided that I really needed to apologize for what I had done. I really wrote a sincere apology and did mean it.”
    When it came time to choose what they were writing their essays on the girls thought about possible subjects.
    “I brainstormed with my mother,” Julia said. “That’s how I picked it. She felt that it was the perfect representation for what the Laws of Life wanted.”
    For Jessica, it was not so easy.
    “I brainstormed on my own. In the back of my mind I thought about that story, but at first I didn’t really want to write about it because I would have to publicize something I wasn’t proud of,” Jessica said. “But I finally picked it because it was a good story. Julia helped me edit it. I did want to win because
    Julia had also won.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Each girl found out she won in an unusual way.
    “I was invited down to Columbus for the awards ceremony,” Julia said. “I sat there as they read off all the other names. I figured out I had won when I was the only name not called, and the first place award was the only one left.”
    The night of Jessica’s awards ceremony in Columbus was also the night that the homecoming queen was announced at the pep rally.
    “I was really upset about not being able to go to Columbus, but I was on the court and the dance team,” she said. “My English teacher, Mr. DeVitis, went down for the ceremony since felt I needed to stay here because of all that was going on.
    “Mr. Devitis arrived back from Columbus just as the pep rally was finishing. I asked him how I had done and he said glumly, ‘Well, Dixon, there was one really good one there.’ I said, ‘Well, OK,’ a little disappointed, and then he paused and said, ‘And that one was yours!’ Then he hugged me and I cried.”
    The sisters each received a $500 award from Laws of Life and a small scholarship from the Green Schools Foundation.
    Julia recently graduated from the University of Akron and works as a technical writer and documentation specialist.
    Jessica will graduate in the spring, but has yet to pick a college.