Marion County Academy Incorporates ORTLEF Contests Into School Life

For the students at Holy Family Academy in Brooks, Oregon Right to Life Education Foundation’s (ORTLEF) annual pro-life student contests are a longstanding tradition. 

The private Catholic school has been encouraging — and often assigning — its K-8 students to enter ORTLEF’s drawing, essay or short film divisions for close to two decades (an oratory contest also exists for older students).

 “We have had several students place [at the state level] over the years, which is always a rewarding experience for them,” says longtime grammar and Latin teacher Ariel Lynch. “When I taught writing, I often used the topic as a classroom exercise to practice revision skills.”

 The elementary grades enter the drawing categories of the contest via their art classes, while many middle schoolers opt to write an essay. No matter the division, all entries play off a chosen pro-life concept. For 2024, that theme is “Everyone has a beginning.”

 “I have really appreciated the shift the themes have taken in recent years,” Lynch says. “I think that in order to raise children who love and honor life, they need to contemplate the beauty and wonder and dignity of it.”

 Holy Family Academy has no plans to stop the pipeline between ORTLEF and its students anytime soon. Lynch says the staff sees the contests as valuable for all parties and “gives the students a chance to try out their skills in a different arena than their familiar classroom, which can give them new perspectives and understanding.”

 “This contest, in particular, is beloved by the school because it focuses on encouraging and cultivating in the students a love for all life,” she says. “It promotes conversation in the classroom on various topics that touch on a culture of life and reinforces that it is important to articulate or express the things we believe.”

 For more information about the contests, including the opportunity to be a contest coordinator, visit For Holy Family Academy’s website, see

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