Jill Lytle, a junior at University High School in Irvine, was a winner in the "Sweet 16 Contest" sponsored by Sassy magazine and the Diamond Information Center.
Her essay on why it's "cool" to be 16 and those of 15 other contestants were deemed the most creative and original by a panel of judges, which included young celebrities Lonnie Quinn from the soap opera "All My Children" and Sean Kanan of "Karate Kid III." Sassy magazine's Editor in Chief Jane Pratt and entertainment editor Christina Kelly also judged the contest, which received submissions from more than 500 girls, all age 16.
The 16 winners and their mothers won a weekend trip in September to New York City, where the girls were presented three-quarter-carat diamond pendants during a party at the St. Moritz Hotel in Manhattan. The winners were also treated to a makeover at Bloomingdale's department store and lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe.
Not surprisingly, in a majority of the essays, boys were the most popular subject, along with dating and getting a driver's license. For many young women, gaining independence and a sense of responsibility were the focus, and a number of them expressed social concerns.