Elementary students competed in the State Junior Essay contest by supporting the statement “Why America is My Favorite Country.” Winners at Cape Horn-Skye Elementary were fifth grader Nolan Johnson with a first place and fourth grader Keagan Payne with a second place. At Gause Elementary, Anna Chaffee won first place for fourth grade and Emelia Warta from the fifth grade received an Honorable Mention. Winning the third grade competition were Madison Dodge, first place; Aidan Hasselbush, second place; and Brooklyn Lowe, third place. Hathaway Elementary did not participate this year.
This year, all 3rd grade contest winners came from the classroom of Gause teacher, Jim Schroeder. “Consistently, year in and year out, he produces more winners for his grade level than anyone else,” said Gause Principal Rex Larson. “Jim had also been the 3rd grade teacher for this year's 4th and 5th grade winners from Gause.”
“Taking part in this contest helps students to understand that our rights and privileges in the United States are not the same as in other parts of the world,” said Schroeder. “Students begin to recognize that they are very lucky to be living in a free country, and to honor those that have fought to keep it that way.”
Schroeder has been surprised by how many students incorporate personal stories into their essays. “There many stories that demonstrated how living in our free country has touched, or had an impact on their own family's life history,” he said.
Middle school winners of the Patriot Pen Essay contest at Canyon Creek Middle School were second place winners Thomas Hein, eighth grade and Simone Velansky, sixth grade. Seventh grade winners were Bryce M. Holmes with a third place and Charlotte Baker was awarded an Honorable Mention. Jemtegaard Middle School did not participate this year.
At the high school level, students competed in the Voice of Democracy competition. Washougal High School senior Taylor Brown won first place and a $500 check. Winning fourth place and a $100 check was senior Aisha Marcos. WHS Honorable Mention winners were seniors Courtney Shelley and Christian Mishler and junior Mitchell Leon.
All winners of 1st, 2nd and 3rd places from all grade levels will advance to the state competition. High school students can advance to nationals were there is a $35,000 college scholarship for the top prize.