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Rotary clubs to hold essay contest

The Bemidji Area Rotary Clubs' annual 4-Way Test Essay Contest for high school students could see a student winning a $1,000 prize at the district level.

The Bemidji Rotary Club and Bemidji Sunrise Rotary Club will each award a $200 prize to two top essay writers, who will compete for one of six $100 regional awards, leading up to the single Rotary District 5580 $1,000 winner.

Rotary District 5580 offers the essay contest as an incentive to young people to develop their skills of self-expression and as evidence of a sincere interest in the ideals of youth. All students in their final two years of high school are eligible to participate.

The essay can deal with any topic of the student's choosing, but it must apply the principles of the Rotary 4-Way Test:

- Is it the TRUTH?

- Is it FAIR to all concerned?


- Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

The Rotary 4-Way Test was first conceived in 1932 at the height of the Great Depression by a Chicago businessman, faced with the challenge of saving a major company from bankruptcy. Looking for a way to save the company, he sought a short yardstick of ethics that could be used.

Company personnel were asked to learn the test and to observe it as a guide to every aspect of business. As a result, a climate of trust and goodwill gradually developed among dealers, customers and employees, and the 4-Way Test was credited with returning the company to a thriving status.

The 4-Way Test has inspired safe driving programs, crime and drug reduction activities, and has been the subject of countless secondary school essays. The message has appeared on roadside billboards, bronze plaques and has been translated into more than 100 languages.

The 500- to 1,000-word essay must be submitted in typewritten form, and the local deadline for entries to the Rotary clubs is March 10. Detailed information and entry forms may be obtained from high school counselors' offices, or an e-mail copy of guidelines can be sent by contacting Brad Swenson, Bemidji Sunrise Rotary Club,