Posted by Steve Grubb on Aug 16, 2018
The  4-Way Essay Contest, open to 9th Grade Students in District 7390, has undergone some major modifications for 2018-19. First, the topic of the essay has changed.  The Four-Way Test originated when Herbert J. Taylor wrote the four familiar questions in the course of transforming a failing aluminum company to a thriving, profitable one.  Seizing upon this history, this year we will ask 9th Graders to write an essay on How Rotary’s Four Way Test helps me confront or deal with the issue of failure?  We felt this topic was particularly appropriate as recent studies are showing that the younger generation is experiencing spikes in anxiety and depression stemming from difficulty in handling adverse situations.  We are hoping the Four-Way Test can be a resource for students as they confront these issues in the coming years.  We are also planning to change the essay prompt on a yearly or bi-yearly basis to keep the contest fresh and relevant to students.
Second, over the past several years, clubs were asked to coordinate with 9th Grade English teachers who would do an initial screen of the essays prior to submitting the best ones to the sponsoring club for evaluation.  If this works for you – great!  No need to change.  Some clubs, however, expressed that teachers were losing interest in the contest and burning out after several years of participation.  No knock against these hard-working teachers, but giving them, essentially, another set of papers to “grade” is a lot to ask.  We are now encouraging clubs to think of creative ways to receive entries to the contest.  For example, you may choose to coordinate with a teacher to offer the contest at schools in your service area, but instead of having the students submit their entries through the teacher, have the students mail or e-mail the essays directly to your club for review. How you receive the entries is now up to your Club.  We are hoping that flexibility in this area will make the contest more attractive to local Rotary clubs, and will generate many more entries.
Finally, we are stressing that you make the contest available to ALL ninth-grade students in your service area.  This includes public and private schools, as well as home schooled students.  Many home-schoolers have parent groups that may allow you to reach out to a number of home school students through one communication.  Also, don’t forget about cyber schools.  If you have a contact with a cyber school, see if they might consider offering the contest to their students.  Please be cognizant, however, that the contest is limited to cyber school students who physically reside in our district. 
The new, revamped Essay Contest rules and critical dates are available here! It is time to start organizing!  We hope that you will consider getting involved in this exciting new chapter for the essay contest.