Student Voices Project

Our sixth annual Student Voices Project brought in writing from 126 middle and high school students representing 12 U.S. Friends schools and 8 monthly meetings. We selected 22 honorees whose submissions are featured here. However, due to space limitations in our print issue, we’re unable to showcase all honoree submissions in their entirety. Some have been excerpted on the following pages with the rest of each story appearing in our online edition available at Friendsjournal​.org, where you can also see a full list of all 237 participants. This year’s prompt:

Write about the role of competition in your life and how Quaker values influence your approach to it.


  • A Homeschooler’s Point of View on Competition A Homeschooler’s Point of View on CompetitionMy whole life I have been raised as a Quaker homeschooler, so I have not been placed into different classes or grades. Every year I have to guess what grade I’m in. Right now it’s between sixth or seventh…
  • A Tool or a Weapon A Tool or a WeaponThe Quaker approach to competition has influenced my life greatly. From my experiences, I’ve learned that competition can be utilized to motivate, making it a tool, but if it is not done in the correct mindset, it can become a weapon.
  • One Big Problem One Big ProblemThere’s one big problem I notice that relates to competition, and it is caused by masculinity. It’s a problem not just in sports, but everywhere: men and boys trying to prove that they are strong or in charge.
  • I Can Do It I Can Do ItAlthough I have never been someone who loves sports or competition very much, this year my parents encouraged me to try a sport, so I picked cross country. Art and music have always interested me more than sports…
  • Competing as a Quaker Competing as a QuakerCompetition requires a great deal of hard work and effort. When you begin to compete at a higher level it also takes desire and passion to be a winner at whatever you set your mind to do. Some may argue that competition conflicts with Quaker beliefs…
  • Wrestling with Defeat Wrestling with DefeatI am not a perfect Quaker. My family discovered Quakerism when I was two years old. I grew up with Quaker values, went to meeting for worship every Sunday, and have gone to a Friends school for quite a while. One of my passions, though, is wrestling.
  • Transitioning from Public to Private School Transitioning from Public to Private SchoolI remember the day my teachers from Wister Elementary School announced to me and two other students that we were selected for a scholarship. I was overjoyed until they continued to say that all of us wouldn’t be going.
  • High School Hierarchy High School HierarchyI cried yesterday. I was sobbing: red, wet, puffy, and gross because of the academic competition I face in school every day. I don’t mean to do it, compare myself to other students, but it’s inevitable…
  • Loosening Our Blindfolds Loosening Our BlindfoldsThe main point of a competition is to see who is better in a certain arena. Equality is emphasizing and enforcing the importance of all of us as equals, and competition is the exact opposite. It darkens the line even more between best and worst…
  • Losing LosingNo one likes it, / The thing most fear, / Unpredictable, / We work hard to run away, / Hidden lessons weaved in, / Forced, / People get emotional / Some don’t even care, / Reminds us how much / We like winning…
  • Ego or Integrity Ego or IntegrityDum, da, da, da, rang the bell—class had started. I tensed up; did I have to go to the bathroom? I couldn’t think or acknowledge anyone, at least there was no one to talk to. My heart caught in my esophagus, and my stomach turned like a roller coaster ride.
  • Community of Numeric Competitors Community of Numeric CompetitorsI came home, excited after a day full of learning, to find my mother waiting for me at the door with some great news: my name had been picked from the lottery to go to the first math meet of the year! Restlessly, I awaited the day.
  • What Page Are You On? What Page Are You On?Competition surrounds my life. In almost everything I do there is some sort of a competition involved even when there does not have to be. The teachers don’t always have control over how their students create competitions…
  • Truly Winning at Life Truly Winning at LifeCompetition is a big part of the everyday world. It overlaps with the desire for power and the desire for community, bringing people together at the same time it could be tearing them apart.
  • From Competition to Cooperation From Competition to CooperationMy first exposure to competitive club travel sports was a difficult one, primarily because of the attitude and actions of one team member. She was quick to say how certain team members didn’t deserve play time because they weren’t as good as she was.
  • Growth and Learning Growth and LearningI used to wrestle… One time, after losing a match, I sat back down on the bench, changing my shoes and getting a drink of water. I heard a parent yelling at their son for losing his last match. They never told him what to do better, they just yelled…
  • Competition Who? Competition Who?There was a girl named Kesha. She was 13 years old, and she was exceptionally good at running. She had a brother who was 7 and a little sister who was 23 months. Her mom was a single mom because her dad was in jail.
  • Competing Against Myself Competing Against MyselfWhat does it mean to win or lose? How can we use competition to grow as individuals? In response to these queries, I thought about three of my past experiences: Suzuki violin training, The Agents of Social Change (TASC) incident, and my SSAT experience.
  • Journey of Self Acceptance Journey of Self AcceptanceI stare blankly at myself in my bathroom mirror, disappointed with my reflection. It doesn’t come as a surprise anymore; I’ve grown immune to it. My lack of self acceptance has become a part of who I am, and sadly who I will become.
  • My Revelation with Quaker Competition My Revelation with Quaker CompetitionI used to despise competition. Growing up with siblings, our lives were devoted to one‐upping each other and proving who had done something better than the other. I often found myself doing crazy things solely for the purpose of proving…
  • The Value of Intense Competition The Value of Intense CompetitionAs my dirty, sweaty palm makes contact with my opponent’s, I look him in the eye. He was their striker and my assignment to shut down for the game. I put everything I had into making sure he did not get in on goal, complete a pass, have any room to breathe.
  • Competitive Ethics? Competitive Ethics?Since tenth grade, I have participated in a competition called Ethics Bowl. Every year high school students gather in teams in New York City to talk about ethical dilemmas and give their opinions on how these dilemmas should be resolved.
  • Student Voices Project 2019 Participants Student Voices Project 2019 ParticipantsThank you to all of the 237 participants of the 6th annual Student Voices Project!

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