During my recent bookshelf cleaning and reorganization, I happened on this bit of history -- dating from, I think, my junior year in high school -- and that would have been 1958-59. As far as I can recall, we were assigned a subject to write on and the "best" essays were chosen for inclusion in this modest little book.
There are essays from all the states and the titles include such winners as 'Honour,' 'Youth,' Courage or Cowardice,' 'Preparing for a Formal,' 'What Democracy Means to Me,' and 'Opportunities of the American Youth of Today.'
In Mrs. Opal Dudney's class, an earnest teenager named Vicki Lane chose to write about two things that were important to her. Her punctuation and expression are dreadful (she needed an editor very badly) but I find that, even after all these years, I pretty much agree with her sentiments.
Two Important Things
These two things I am about to write on, individuality and love of life, are perhaps not as important as some of the rights and freedoms we in a free country take for granted; but without them, I could not be happy.
Freedom to be an individual belongs to everyone, but relatively few people exercise it. Our society is one in which a person who does not conform, is an outcast. All people are not cast in the same mold, for which I am thankful. What a dull world it would be if each person were a replica of his fellow man! "Know thyself and be thyself!"
By love of life I mean the capacity to be able to look forward to each day, eager for what it may bring.
These abstract qualities are those most important to me. To another they may seem trivial but to me they are essential.