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Essayist uses Armstrong at litmus test for four-way test

Shabbona’s Wantland wins Rotary contest

Nathan Wantland, seventh-grader at Shabbona Middle School, receives his certificate from Morris Rotary Club President John Carr for winning first place in the Four-Way Test Essay Contest.
Nathan Wantland, seventh-grader at Shabbona Middle School, receives his certificate from Morris Rotary Club President John Carr for winning first place in the Four-Way Test Essay Contest.

This year’s Morris Rotary Club four-way test essay contest had 45 submissions, giving judges a tough job on deciding the top three.

“The winner put something in his essay we could all relate to,” said Dr. Cary Ann Jenkins, Rotary president-elect and contest judge.

The Morris Rotary Club is 98 years old. Rotary Clubs are volunteer service organizations dedicated to giving back to their communities and others around the world by volunteering their time and fundraising.

The winner of the essay contest was Nathan Wantland, a Shabbona Middle School seventh-grader. He used cyclist Lance Armstrong’s confession to using performance-enhancing drugs as an example in his essay.

“I just thought about how some people’s lives would change and the Lance Armstrong news was happening and I thought he would be a good example,” said Wantland.

The second-place winner was Kade Kjellesvik of Immaculate Conception School, while third place went to Katie Hemmersbach of ICS. Honorable mentions were also given to Trevor Zink and Katie Durkin, both of ICS.

Students from Saratoga School also participated in the annual contest.

The Morris Rotary Club asked the schools to have their sixth- and seventh-grade students participate in an essay contest explaining what Rotary’s four-way test means to them and how it applies to their lives.
Rotary ’s four-way test of what Rotarians “think, say and do” includes: 1) Is it the truth? 2) Is it fair to all concerned? 3) Will it build goodwill and better friendships? 4) Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

“Just imagine how some people’s lives would have changed if they listened to these four questions. For example, when Lance Armstrong admitted to taking steroids, his whole career was basically ruined.

“Coming clean was better than never saying anything, but he still should have thought about the consequences,” wrote Wantland.

“Armstrong was a very good biker, and he probably could have won a lot of races without steroids. But just taking PEDS for a short period of time was enough to shatter his whole career, and especially his reputation.”

Wantland continues that if Armstrong had asked himself Rotary’s four questions, the answer would have been no to all four.

All three winners received certificates for their wins, dinner with the Rotarians, and a monetary prize. Wantland said he also received extra credit in one of his classes for submitting his essay.

“I was pretty surprised. I didn’t think I would win when I wrote it. I was very shocked and surprised,” said Wantland.

Club Vice President Jim Bianchetta said the club started doing the contest to encourage students to make good decisions by thinking of the Rotary’s four-way test.

The judges learn a lot about the challenges and concerns of students in junior high, said Jenkins.

“We hope in learning about the four-way test they can use it to overcome some of the obstacles they face at school and at home,” she said.

For more information on the local club, visit

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