Shelton teen Tony Mao awarded for ‘Painful Lesson’ essay

Shelton resident Tony Mao, a sophomore at Christian Heritage School in Trumbull, received top honors for his written work in the Laws of Life essay program, which encourages students to reflect and write about the values they believe will help them develop successful and productive lives.

Tony’s essay “A Painful Lesson,” received one of the top 15 spots out of nearly 2,200 submissions. The essay explores his experience as a child awaiting a vaccination shot, which brought him to the realization that crying and complaining does not help in a difficult situation. Tony concludes that hard things in life are unavoidable and are better approached with a brave and optimistic attitude rather than one of defeat.

The top student essayists, including Tony and two other CHS students, juniors Courtney Lopiano and Michael Marcello, were recognized at a dinner celebration at Amarante’s Sea Cliff in New Haven.

The Laws of Life essay program was created by Sir John Templeton in 1987 and has spread throughout the United States and to more than 30 countries around the world. The School for Ethical Education (SEE), located in Milford, has been administering the essay program in Connecticut since 2000. SEE is a non-profit, non-sectarian organization that encourages learning experiences that foster positive character. For more information about Laws of Life visit