CALA Central Texas announces winner of high school essay contest

David Yates Nov. 1, 2010, 10:00am

Roger Borgelt, chairman of the board of CALA of Central Texas, left, presents a $1,000 check to Adrian Gonzales, right, winner of the Personal Responsibility Essay Contest.

Last Friday the legal watchdog group Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse of Central Texas announced the winner of its first Personal Responsibility Essay Contest for high school students.

According to a CALA press release, contest winner Adrian Gonzales, a junior at W. Charles Akins High School, was recognized for his essay, "Is Personal Responsibility an Important Trait?" during CALA's annual reception at the InterContinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel in Austin on Oct. 29.

CALA Executive Director Stephanie Gibson said the essay contest is one of the many ways the group is making the public better aware of the cost and consequences of lawsuit abuse and the need for personal responsibility.

"As a mother, I know the importance of starting early in teaching the value of personal responsibility," Gibson said.

"So often in our society today, some people are quick to look to someone else to blame when something goes wrong. The need to take ownership of our own behavior in our daily lives is a lesson worth learning, whether at an early age or even later in life."

Gonzales was presented a $1,000 college scholarship for his winning essay. He was joined at the event by his family, teacher Rebecca Redland-Sturz and Akins High School Principal Daniel Girard.

"From my own experience, I have seen the so called 'blame game' play out several times, especially during my high school career," Gonzales wrote in his essay.

"Students that fail classes often reply when asked why they failed a certain class, 'It was the teacher's fault' or 'I had homework in other classes.' It wasn't the teacher's fault that the student decided to go watch T.V. in lieu of reviewing his/her notes, especially when the student is at an age to make conscious decisions of their own."

CALA's essay contest was open to juniors and seniors from Central Texas high schools, including Austin, San Antonio and those students homeschooled. Participating students were asked to comment on the importance of personal responsibility in society, the press release states.

"We are thrilled to have had such outstanding participation from local high schools," Gibson said.

"We have become a society that wants to solve our problems with lawsuits instead of accepting responsibility for our own actions. If each citizen takes personal responsibility for his or her own actions and we instill these values in our youth, we can take a big step toward ending the abuse of our civil justice system."

Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales served as keynote speaker at the CALA reception. Gonzales served on the Texas Supreme Court from 1999 until 2001.

Serving as honorary hosts of the CALA reception were Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, Attorney General Greg Abbott, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and all Texas Railroad commissioners as well as a number of local members of Congress and of the Texas House and Senate.

CALA is a nonprofit coalition dedicated to raising lawsuit abuse awareness and has five chapters across the state.

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