Winners in the Optimist Club Essay Contest were, from left, Hannah Forrest, second place; Sarah Hartung, third; and Mary Butgereit, first. They are students at Bob Jones High School. (PHOTO / LEIGH BUTGEREIT)
Winners in the Optimist Club Essay Contest were, from left, Sarah Hartung, third place; Hannah Forrest, second place; and Mary Butgereit, first. They are students at Bob Jones High School. (PHOTO / LEIGH BUTGEREIT)

Archived Story

Bob Jones coeds’ empathetic writing leads to Optimist Club wins

Published 7:26pm Friday, April 5, 2013

MADISON – Thoughtful writing by three girls at Bob Jones High School resulted in honors with the Optimist Club Essay Contest.

Mary Butgereit earned first-place honors, with Hannah Forrest in second place and Sarah Hartung in third. Their 800-word essays discussed “How Do I Help My Friends Realize Their Value?”

Butgereit’s essay used scientific studies that found “people have an average of two ‘real’ friends … A little time, attention, honesty and reminiscing go a long way towards making someone feel valuable.”

Quoting poet John Donne, Butgereit wrote, “No man is an island — and the land you choose to surround yourself with deserves to be tended to.”

“Constant comparison” also can diminish a friend’s self-worth, Butgereit said. “Society’s version of ‘successful’ begins to seem like the only version of success. By not fitting this specific mold, a person is suddenly less of a person. They are held hostage by the perceived expectations set before them.”

Butgereit was a founding member of the Writing Club at Liberty Middle School. “I read all the time growing up, and I’ve always loved stories. It makes sense to combine the two into writing,” she said.

A junior, Butgereit participates in National Honor Society, Technology Students Association and Patriot Players, along with editing the literary magazine. Mary’s parents are Drew and Leigh Butgereit.

A writer since six years old, Sarah Hartung is “still working on a novel.” She views scholarly essays as practice. “Research is linked to creativity, and vice versa. Where else would curiosity come from?”

In her essay, Hartung wrote, “Value is not just human worth. It is an emotion … Each person has a gift, a passion for something.” She incorporated points from the parable of the talents and Maslow’s Hierarchy.

Hartung, a senior, belongs to National Honor Society, Science National Honor Society, Spanish Club and IGEMS Molecular Biology team. She is involved with advanced drama, editing “The Eclectic” and Diamond Doll baseball cheerleaders.

Her parents are Robert and Lauren Hartung.

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