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Email lawsoflife@centerforcharacterethics.org

Frequently Asked Questions

The questions most often asked by teachers and contest sponsors

What Teachers Say
About the Contest

“The Laws of Life Essay Contest helped my students with their writing skills...”

Sample Essays

Read and be inspired by the winning essays from past years

Other Laws of Life resources:

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Templeton Foundation Laws of Life
Character Counts! Foundations for Life

Ohio -Central Ohio
BBB Laws of Life
Essay Contest

The Central Ohio BBB Laws of Life Essay Contest is a competition of the best Laws of Life, Foundations for Life, or other character-related essays written by middle grade students in the 21 county Central Ohio area. The BBB Center for Character Ethics sponsors the regional contest to recognize the achievements of the exceptional youth who participate in their local school contests, and to encourage schools and communities to engage in this enriching and valuable experience.

Entries for the 2015 Essay contest are due:

MARCH 6, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions:

Eligibility for entering
What grade levels can participate?
What is the essay topic and length?
How many entries may be submitted?
Download contest forms
What are the judging criteria?
What awards are given?
Submitting entries by mail
When are entries due?

Eligibility for Entering-NEW

The contest is open to schools with students in grades 6, 7, and or 8 in the following Ohio counites: Athens, Champaign, Coshocton, Delaware, Fairfield, Fayette, Franklin, Hocking, Knox, Licking, Logan, Madison, Marion, Meigs, Morrow, Muskingum, Perry, Pickaway, Ross, Union, and Vinton. Any eligible school (or youth services/community organization) may submit their best essays to the Central Ohio contest. Only essays that have been selected as a top essay may be submitted.

What grade levels are included? NEW

Grades 6, 7 or 8 are eligible to particapte. 

What is the essay topic and is there a maximum length?

There is no specific essay prompt; essays should follow either the Laws of Life essay contest recommendations or use a "maxim" or quotation as in the Foundations for Life essay contest. You can also use the UncommonSense™ themes. See the new award for a special essay theme suggestion below.

Essays should be no more than 3 typed, double spaced pages. Finalists will be asked to submit an electronic version of their essays, so contest coordinators are encouraged to ask for electronic files from their winners also.

How many entries can each school submit to the Central Ohio contest?

The number of entries is determined by the number of essays written in each school (or youth group), according to the following table:

# of essays written # entries*
1-15 1
16-30 2
31- 60 3
61- 99 5
100+ top 5%

*See below for opportunity to submit an additional entry

Timeline and contest award ceremony

All entries must be submitted by the school contest coordinator (teacher or school official) online or postmarked no later than March 6, 2015. Finalists will be notified by mail in April.  Each student finalist, their parents, teacher and the local contest coordinator will be invited to attend an Awards Reception in May 2015 in the Columbus area at which time the specific awards will be announced. The author of the first place winning essay will be asked to read their essay at the ceremony. Finalists will be notified of this possibility so they can be prepared.

Judging criteria

Only essays that have been selected as a "best essay" in their school or group for Laws of Life, Foundations for Life, or another character-related essay contest may be submitted for judging. Essays will be judged primarily on their content-whether they are positive and life-affirming, include a "law of life" that the author believes will make the world a better place, capture a value or ideal in a special way, or explain and relate a quote or "Timeless Truth" effectively. Some importance to presentation and the mechanics of writing will be considered in judging to the extent that the ideas put forth by the author are clearly understood. In cases where the content is judged as having equal merit, the essay which is better written or presented will be given a higher score. Before submitting essays, local contest coordinators should assure that students have proofed and typed their essays.
Click here for a sample scoring rubric.


Cash prizes will be awarded to all finalists. Amounts are indicated below. All student finalists will receive recognition in the banquet program as well as a certificate of recognition signed by the Governor. Schools and teachers of finalists will receive gift cards in appreciation of their efforts. 

Grade-level Awards

  First Place Second Place Third Place    
6th Grade $100 $75 $50    
7th Grade $100 $75 $50    
8th Grade $100 $75 $50    


Overall awards        
Best Overall Essay                                    $500          
2nd Place Overall                                     $250          
3rd Place Overall                                      $100
Best Essay by a male                                $150
Best Essay by a female                             $150
Best Special Theme Essay (see below)       $150
Best Cover Design                                    $100


Special Theme Award for 2015

The special theme for 2015 is INTEGRITY. The best essay on the theme of INTEGRITY will be awarded $150.  Students are not required to write about this topic, but if students choose to write on the topic of INTEGRITY,  the best essay on that topic may be submitted as an additional entry for that school.

Cover design contest

Each school (or youth group) that submits essay entries may submit one entry for a design for the cover of the winning essay booklet that is published each year. The cover entry does not have to be judged locally or the result of a competition. The design should be a graphic representation that depicts a student's "law of life". Entries should be full color, not larger than 8.5 x 11, and "portrait" orientation (no "landscape" designs). The cover design can be submitted on paper, but preferably as a .jpg file (no .pdfs). Include an entry form with the student's entry. The winning student will receive $100 and be invited to the Awards Reception. More info

Submitting entries by mail

To submit entries by mail

  1. Fill out an entry form for each essay to be submitted (see "How many entries" above), forms can be downloaded from the "Documents" list below.
  2. Obtain the student and parent/guardian signatures.
  3. Paperclip (please no staples) the entry form to 5 (five) copies of each essay - one sided and on white paper only. No names or identifying information should appear on the essays.
  4. Complete a Contest Coordinator Questionnaire and submit with your essays.
  5. Entries must be postmarked by March 6, 2015
  6. Send entries and Contest Coordinator Questionnaire postmarked by March 6, 2015 to:
    Lucy Frontera, Ph.D.
    BBB Center for Character Ethics
    1169 Dublin Rd
    Columbus, OH 43215

For further contest information

Email lfrontera@centerforcharacterethics.org or call 614-486-6531 x137 with questions or for further information.

Contest Forms

Entry form 
Contest Coordinator Questionnaire 
2015 brochure
Cover design entry instructions
Common Core Links with writing a Laws of Life Essay 
Lesson plan - journaling 
Sample quotes 
Pre-writing student questionnaire 
Writing ideas