Morristown, NJ--The Morris School District is proud to announce that Morristown High School sophomore John Jabbour has received a prestigious Gold Medal in the 2020 New Jersey Council of Teachers of English (NJCTE) High School Writing Contest for his personal essay, titled “The Value of Impermanence.”  

The NJCTE is the state chapter of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), the premiere professional organization for English teachers in the United States.  It is dedicated to empowering teachers and students to “collaborate in the pursuit of justice and equity through the disciplines of literature, language, and literacy.” 

The NJCTE’s annual state-wide writing contest invites high school students to submit exceptional work in three categories:  poetry, short story, or personal essay.  This year’s theme was “hindsight,” and the personal essay writing prompt to which Jabbour responded required that students “write a personal essay or narrative about the effect hindsight had on your life.” 

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At Morristown High School, Jabbour is currently enrolled in English 2H (the honors section of sophomore-level English) with veteran English teacher Jennifer Furphey.  Ms. Furphey noted that she has been blessed to have several students write award-winning pieces for the NJCTE contest over the years and had particularly high praise for Jabbour:  “John is one of the nicest and most conscientious students I have taught at MHS.” 

A member of the MHS Boys Soccer Team, the Health Professions Club, the Architecture Club, and the Chemistry Club, Jabbour has taken full advantage of the many opportunities students have to immerse themselves in the diverse, active life of the high school.  He also has an exemplary academic record, having earned high honors each quarter of his high school career thus far.  Jabbour describes writing as a relaxing activity--“a way to step back from the world”--and regards his approach to writing as an almost magical endeavor:  “When I write, it feels as if I am watching the sentences appear on the page rather than creating them in my mind,” he said.  He credits his love of reading for leading him to a love of and aptitude for writing.

As an NJCTE Gold Medal recipient, Jabbour is eligible to attend the Governor’s Awards in Arts Education, which will be held virtually this year at the end of June.  This awards ceremony recognizes student achievement in the arts throughout the state of New Jersey and celebrates the importance and impact of the arts on our lives and culture.  

Below is an excerpt from Jabbour’s Gold Award-winning essay, “The Value of Impermanence”: 

It was a hot summer that year, prompting every kid to jump in the pool as fast as possible and begin practice. For reasons I can’t explain, I did not get in right away. Maybe it was fate. Maybe it was just a wild coincidence. Standing over by the benches where my swimming bag was sitting, I saw one. I saw a hummingbird. It was tiny, smaller than my thumb, and its wings moved so quickly that I could not make them out. The bird was oblivious to me or my fascination with it. It hovered slowly from flower to flower, sipping nectar as it went. I was so enthralled by the diminutive bird that it was a long time before I was able to take my eyes off of it. Although I was late to practice, it was more than worth it. I had seen a hummingbird. …



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