Laws of Life – State of the City – May 2015

Mayor John Sorey

Naples Mayor John Sorey

The Laws of Life is a character education essay/speech contest, which focuses on 12 basic character traits: citizenship, cooperation, courage, fairness, honesty, kindness, patriotism, perseverance, respect, responsibility, self-control, and tolerance. Students in grades 4 through 12 throughout Collier County submit essays on the assigned trait(s). This was the 19th year for the contest, which began in 1996. The idea of the Laws of Life was originally presented to the City of Naples and was promoted by the late Bonnie MacKenzie, former Council Member and Mayor of the City of Naples.

The contest is sponsored by the City of Naples, the Collier County Sheriff ’s Office, the SW Florida 49ers, and the Collier County Public Schools. This year, more than 4,000 students contributed essays. These essays were judged and narrowed down to the top 10 in each division (4th and 5th grades, middle school, 9th and 10th grades, and 11th and 12th grades).

Oral presentations of the essays were done by these students in front of a Blue Ribbon Panel of Judges, who select the four finalists in each division. The contest ends with a banquet where the order of the finalists is announced, and the first place finalist in each division presents his/her essay orally. The essays that these children write are truly amazing.

Students initially write essays connected to an annual Character Education, Laws of Life theme. Participating public and private schools then send their top ten essays to the district level for judging. The student essays are scored by a committee of readers and the top ten students in each division are invited then to participate in an oral phase of the competition. Once again a committee composed of community judges scores the presentations.

The top four student finalists in each division are then invited, along with the parents and teacher to attend the annual banquet where the finalists are recognized and presented with their awards. The banquet is generally attended by the Mayor, members of City and County Government, and selected educational and community leaders. The winning students’ oral presentations in each category are videotaped and then shown several times throughout SW Florida on the Educational Channel of local Cable TV.  (, Click the naplesTV link and view March 4th meeting).

The Winning entries are then sent on to the Templeton Foundation, who sponsors the program nationally, for possible inclusion in “Winning Ways,” an annually published student volume containing the best entries of the “Laws of Life” Program. Collier County students have several times had their writings published in this student-authored book.

Why is “Laws of Life” important to the City of Naples? Our young people are the future leaders of this wonderful place we call home. It is important that they understand values, respect and understanding, personally, professionally and socially.

Having positive character traits that lead to responsible citizenship and a successful life will continue to ensure to make Naples the best place
in America to work, live and play.

I encourage all students to get involved in the “Laws of Life” program, I also suggest our young people learn more about and volunteer in our local government.

As always I ask our residents who have ideas, suggestions or comments to contact me at 239.213.1000 or

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