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Being Thankful: How Teens Feel About Real World Issues

What are students most grateful for?Students and the Holidays:  Teens and College Students Answer the Question, "What are you most thankful for?"

It's the holidays.  Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve, individuals around the world give thanks for special people, things, or forces in their lives that deserve a word of thanks. 

From notes of gratitude to Thanksgiving prayers to Hanukkah and Christmas gifts to moments of silent reflection, 'tis the season to ask, "What are you most thankful for?" 

We all have an answer to that question...but how would young people answer it?  Some people think teenagers or college students are too self-absorbed to truly have a meaningful response to the question of gratitude. 

They couldn't be more wrong.

Below is a collection of the essays from high school and college students as they answered the monthly writing contest question..."What are you most thankful for?"

Over 3,550 students visited the writing contest page and high school and college students poured in submissions about their lives as they talked about the things for which they are most grateful.  We've written a summary of our findings that share general observations and themes from the student writing contest submissions.  You'll find that summary further down this page - it was also submitted as our monthly press release via PRNewswire.

Immediately below, however, we've featured the winning essay, our semi-finalists and some of the other essays featuring real, honest and in many cases raw personal experiences from teens and college students as they speak about the things, people and forces in their lives for which they are the most thankful.

Please take a few moments to read an essay or two. 

If you have the time, make a comment on the essays you enjoyed the most.  We know the student writers will love hearing your positive input (they'll get an email notifying them if you comment on their contest entry).

Student Writing Contest Winner

Winner:  I am Thankful for Quiet by jasoncaleb


High School Essay Finalists:

College Essay Finalists:

Other Essays (in no particular order):

Teens and students are thankful for:  Family

Teens and students are thankful for:  Friends

Teens and students are thankful for:  Physical Abilities

Teens and students are thankful for:  School Relationships

Teens and students are thankful for:  Their Pet

Teens and students are thankful for:  Home

Teens and students are thankful for:  Health & Basic Necessities

Teens and students are thankful for:  The Arts / Creativity

Teens and students are thankful for:  Spirituality / Metaphysics

Teens and students are thankful for:  Opportunity

Teens and students are thankful for:  Nature

Teens and students are thankful for:  Misc. Topics

Last Words:  We could not list all of the student essays submitted, but we thank everyone that participated in the student writing contest.  To enter the current Stage of Life monthly writing contest for high school students and college students...


Stage of Life - Student Writing Contest Press Release

Marine Corps Veteran Wins Holiday Blogging Contest for Teens and College Students

YORK, Pa., Dec. 21, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- What are teens and college students most thankful for this holiday season?  That's a question, a blogging and writing resource for teens and students, poised in its latest monthly writing contest.

Over 3,550 students visited during the month to review the writing contest. 

From the essay and blog submissions, twelve major themes emerged about where teens and college students give the most thanks:  1)  Family, 2) Friends, 3) Physical Abilities, 4) Health, 5) Their Pet, 6) Home, 7) School, 8) The Arts / Creativity, 9)  God and Spirituality, 10) Opportunity, 11)  Nature, and 12) Miscellaneous  Topics, which includes giving thanks to things such as "Guardrails," for saving the lives of reckless teenage drivers (and older generations alike).

The winner of the holiday writing contest is 24-year-old freshman, Jason Gerringer of Crestwood, IL, who started at Trinity Christian College after completing four years in the United States Marine Corps.  After surviving two deployments in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, he offered a unique perspective on where to give gratitude this holiday. 

In his essay entitled, "I'm Thankful for Quiet," Gerringer writes,
"There are a lot of things I'm thankful for. I'm grateful to have a lovely wife who supports me and makes my life warm and more meaningful. I'm thankful for real food that is cooked in a real kitchen, running water, a real shower, and a comfortable bed at night. These things I used to take for granted... It is hard to imagine a world without these simple pleasures. For most of us we see a lot of these things as necessities. Yet the places I've been to in Iraq and Afghanistan, I didn't always get these things, and I witnessed other people who didn't have it as good as we do here. The sad truth of our society is, we don't realize how good it really is, unless we step away from it into a different world. 

"Although I'm thankful for these things, there is nothing I am more grateful for than the solitude I feel as I write this (essay). Each morning I have the freedom to wake up and drive to this college. Every morning I get here early, so that I can find a quiet spot in the library where I can challenge and expand my mind in ways other than the ways of war. Here I can sit and read such things as literature or philosophy, and I am able to ponder the ideas of the scholars before me. I am no longer expected to be a warrior. And I am not so sure now what exactly I am called to be from now on, but for now I'll sit here quietly, soaking up the serenity."
For those interested in reading other essays about giving thanks this holiday season, offers a holiday writing contest summary page featuring links to 100 of the student and teen blogger submissions.  

When asked why he entered, Gerringer said, "I found out about the essay contest through a Google search for college writing contests  and was one of the results, so I looked into it and began writing.  I am an aspiring writer, and this is a great way for me to practice helps to have a topic to write about.  I love it."

The current writing contest for college and high school students deals with the topic of "Money." The writing prompt asks  students, "What is your relationship with money? How do you spend (or save) your money...and why?"

The contest submission deadline is Dec. 31, 2010 - Midnight PST. is recommended as a financial resource for the students and is providing the monthly prize. is offering up SWAG and Featured Writer/Blogger status to the next student writing contest winner.

About Stage of Life™: is a free, non-partisan grassroots project with a mission to make the world a better place, one story at a time.  By hosting blogs, information and resources for teens, college students, Millennials, Gen Y, Gen X, and Baby Boomer generations, its hope is that cross-generational story telling will weave a network of wisdom from which all can benefit.  Specialized content includes free lesson plan ideas and writing prompts for Language Arts teachers, monthly writing contests for high school students  and college students, blogging resources, a free national platform for writers to promote their blogs and much more, including My Life Rewards, an area dedicated to providing relevant coupons and discounts exclusively geared towards each stage of life.

If you'd like more information about or an interview with CEO/Founder, Eric Thiegs, please us the Contact Us form on or call 717-650-0699.


Writing Contest Archive - Students

Writing Contests and Teen Trend Reports Student Writing Contests

Below you will find all of the monthly writing contests and teen trend reports from the last five years hosted by  Our dedication to digital literacy efforts have reached over 1,000,000 students and teachers in the last half decade, received mention on, and features in the news.  Feel free to click through and read the top essay submissions from any given month. is honored to be one of the most-visited writing contests for students in the world.  We love working with you as we celebrate the journey as life-long readers and writers...

2016 Writing Contests

Writing Contest for High School Students

2015 Writing Contests

2014 Writing Contests

 2013 Writing Contests

2012 Writing Contests

2011 Writing Contests

 2010 Writing Contests

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