Rim country school children were recently given a Mother's Day assignment to write an essay entitled: Why my mother deserves a diamond.
"This is our third year doing the contest," said Robert Higginbotham, owner of Payson Jewelers. "The teachers like it because it really gives students a reason to write. It's not just an assignment, it's something they can do for mom."
Higginbotham and his wife, Melissa, sent notices to all area schools and all grades. After the entries were received, a panel from Payson Jewelers selected the top essays.
"We select two winners and as many honorable mentions as we think are appropriate. I think we had 20 this year," Higginbotham said.
Honorable mention winners get to select a prize for their mother from a tray of gemstones. The second-place winner receives a Four Peaks amethyst stone set in a gold necklace.
"And the winner gets a diamond that we usually set in a ring, but we can set it in a pendant if that's what the mom wants," Higginbotham said. "It's worth between $400 and $500."
Higginbotham said the essays are judged on originality and creativity.
"What's impressive about the entries is the power of their words," he said. "Some of the kids really pour their hearts out -- they can be real tear jerkers ... some of these moms are overcoming some incredible odds. It's nice to see that these kids recognize what their moms are doing for them."
This year's diamond essay winner is 10-year-old Amanda Hartnell of Tonto Basin School. The amethyst winner is 12-year-old Sean Ford of Rim Country Middle School.
Here is Hartnell's winning essay about her mother, Laura:
"My mother deserves a diamond because she is not just beautiful outside but inside. She is so beautiful inside she glows. When she smiles, it feels like you're soaring. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for her. She is a lot of wonderful things. She's a doe walking through a quiet forest, ready to jump in front of her fawns to protect them. She is an eagle protecting her young with every ounce of energy. She is very precious to me, and she is the only mom that I have got. If she were to die or go away, she would always be in my heart. That is why my mother deserves a diamond."
Here are selected verses from Sean Ford's winning essay about his mother, Kristi:
"A diamond is a precious and valuable jewel. Its sparkly beauty brings happiness to everyone who holds it. My mother is also beautiful and rare. She has the ability to bring happiness to the lives of people she knows. My mother deserves to win a diamond because of the love she shows her family, the kids of Payson, and the community where she lives.
"My mom shows love to her family in many ways. She always puts the needs of her family before her own. She listens to my problems and helps me to think of ways to fix them. She encourages me in all my activities. I always know when my mom is in the stands at one of my games, because I can hear her cheering me on. She teaches me right from wrong, and then lets me make my own decisions.
"A diamond is one of the hardest substances on earth and can last forever. The service and love we show to others can make memories and happiness that can last a lifetime. My mother has dedicated her life to helping her family and the kids of Payson. Whenever I see something beautiful and rare, I think of my mother. I want to win a diamond for her so every time she looks at it she will think of me.