From Ordinary To Extraordinary With The 4-Way Test

The Rotary Club of Pismo Beach / Five Cites
Rebecca Schwind, First Place
Grade 5, Shell Beach Elementary
Teacher:  Mrs. Baca

My social studies class is studying early America and we each have been assigned an historical figure for a wax museum, and I got Dolley Madison. I have learned what an extraordinary woman Dolley Madison was. She was our first lady to James Madison, the fourth president of the United States. What I learned about her was that she, like Rotarians around the world, practiced the rules of the 4-Way Test. These principles helped Dolley accomplish things that would later benefit the people in the United States.

Dolley Madison started out as an ordinary housewife. But because of the high values and morals she learned as a child, she became a woman remembered in history. Dolley thought of others before herself and always wanted to be fair and honest. I hope that I can always practice these principles. Telling the truth, being fair to all those concerned, doing things to build goodwill and better friendships, and remembering to ask myself if it will be beneficial to all concerned are the key to a happy and successful life. Dolley figured this out on her own and she was happy and successful.

Even though the 4-Way Test didn’t exist in the 1800’s, the principles did. Dolley practiced these principles often. Once, she went out of her way to convince her husband, the president, to allow Frances Scott Key to board a truce ship to seek the freedom of a captured friend. She didn’t have to do that, but she was always looking out for other people—was it fair that this man was captured by the British? It would have been easier to just leave it be, after all what could she do? Not only did she help save this friend, but we also got the National Anthem out of it. While he was on that ship, Frances Scott Key witnessed the firing on Fort McHenry and wrote a poem, which later was turned into “The Star Spangled Banner.”

A simple thing like cooking and entertaining helped Dolley build goodwill and better friendships to the people in Washington. Dolley made the White House the place to be. Everyone wanted to go to one of her parties and experience the “Queen of Washington’s” delicious food. Dolley redecorated the White House and set new fashion trends. This made people happy. People came to her parties as enemies and left as friends. She helped people get along and see each other’s points of view.

Dolley worked selflessly to raise funds to support the Lewis and Clark Expedition. This expedition was beneficial as great scientific discoveries on this trip were unequaled in American History. It also created a lot of goodwill with the Indians.

One of the scariest things she did that benefited American history was to risk her life in order to rescue the Declaration of Independence and a famous portrait of George Washington. Even though the British were quickly approaching to attack the White House, Dolley refused to leave until she packed a wagon with some important valuables that would later benefit others.

Imagine what might have happened if Dolley was selfish and did not practice the principles of the 4- Way Test. If she had not considered what was fair to others, the Star Spangled Banner would not be our National Anthem today. The Declaration of Independence would not be at the Smithsonian in a glass case I saw last summer in Washington D.C. If Dolley had only thought of herself and not what would be beneficial to others, the famous portrait of George Washington would not be hanging in the White House today. Dolley Madison had started out an ordinary Quaker girl, but by using these guiding principles of the 4-Way Test she accomplished extraordinary things. I’m just an ordinary girl, but with the 4-Way Test to guide me, I know that I too can accomplish extraordinary things.


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