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Code of the West Guides Essay Writers

3rd place, Teddi Marchant, Sundance Secondary School; 1st place, Kaeli Hernandez, Burlington High School; 2nd place, Madison Tinker, Natrona County High School ©BGCCW2017

A junior at Burlington High School shared how her parents are her heroes, taking home the top prize in the American Dream Essay Contest. Kaeli Hernandez received a total of $5,300 for her essay titled “My Haphazard but Hopeful Heroes and a Courageous Life”. Her essay explained that her parent’s flaws and mistakes have forced her to live each day with courage, but despite their weaknesses, they are her heroes. It was chosen as the winning entry out of more than 900 essays submitted in the statewide competition.


Madison Tinker from Natrona County High school received $3,300 for her second place essay and Teddi Marchant from Sundance won $1,800 for her third place essay. The awards were handed out Sunday in Casper.


The American Dream Essay Contest is centered on bestselling author, Jim Owen’s “Ten Principles to Live By,” as highlighted in his book Cowboy Ethics. Every high school and homeschool student is invited to participate by asking students in grades 9-12, to reflect on the ten principles and write an essay based on their own personal beliefs or guiding forces.


A total of 970 students, representing 24 schools, participated in this year’s contest. Monetary awards are given for first, second, and third place winners on the local level. The first place winner from each school is forwarded to the state competition where their essay was evaluated by a separate panel of judges to determine the state winner. The top essay wins $5,000 cash, second place receives $3,000 and third $1,500. Sponsoring teachers also receive monetary incentives for participation and a prize if their student’s essay wins at the state level.  A total of $35,000 was awarded in prize money.


The American Dream Essay contest is sponsored by the Templeton Foundation, Zimmerman Family Foundation, Robert P. Schuster, Larry and Margo Bean, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming.

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