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Guided By Code of the West, Students Pen Award Winning Essays




A Natrona County High School student’s letter to her late father, who was gunned down six years ago, earns her the top prize at the American Dream Essay Contest. Nyara Douglas receives a total of $5,300.00 for her essay titled “Letter of Truth”. Her writing tells of how she is healing by “Doing What Needs to Be Done”, that is forgiving her father following his murder. Douglas’ essay was chosen as the winning entry out of more than 800 essays submitted for the statewide competition.

A tie for second place will give Dalton Peterson from Encampment and Tanner Stott from Worland each $3,300.00. Jolie Shahan from Wyoming Virtual Academy wins $2,300.00 for her third place essay. New for this year is the addition of two honorable mention essays that go to Ryan McNiven from Burlington High School and Lindsey Holiday from Ten Sleep School. Each will receive $1,300.00 in prize money.

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 in grades 9-12 is invited to participate by reflecting on the ten principles and writing an essay based on their own personal beliefs or guiding forces.

Students from 24 schools across the state 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 $5,000.00 cash, second place receives $3,000.00, third $2,000.00, and honorable mention $1,000.00. Sponsoring teachers also receive monetary incentives for participation and a prize if their student’s essay wins at the state level.  More than $46,000.00 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, Kevin and Julie Murphy, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming.

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