American Dream Contest Winners at PHS
PHS students capture winning spots in the American Dream essay contest.
PHS students capture winning spots in the American Dream essay contest.
Rue Godsey

Participating in a writing competition can be an exciting experience that elevates a person’s writing skills to new levels. The competitive aspect of the event can inspire writers to experiment with new ideas and narrative styles.

The American Dream contest is run by the Boys and Girls Club of Central Wyoming. Writers are encouraged to examine and consider the “Ten Principles to Live By,” as stated in Cowboy Ethics by James P. Owen. It’s also an option for the writer to write about their personal ethical beliefs. 

 “I decided to go ahead and have every junior in my American literature course participate because it fits right in with our curriculum,” English teacher Mrs. JoEllen Varian said. “I had some local judges volunteer their time to read through 28 of what I thought were the top out of my 85 juniors that deserved a look.”

Entering writing contests can also mean acquiring beneficial rewards. The first-place winner at Powell High School won $300 in scholarship money. The second-place winner was awarded $200 and the third-place place was awarded $100. 

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“The first place person, which was junior Grace Good-Jessen, is going to go to state in Casper on April 14, and that one [competition] has a lot bigger scholarship prizes,” Varian said. “The state scholarship prizes include $5000 for the first-place person, $3000 for second place, and $1000 for the third place. They have two honorable mention spots that can get a $1000 scholarship as well.”

Participating in or winning a writing contest can result in much exposure and recognition. These competitions provide significant networking opportunities. Aspiring authors gain the chance to acquire recognition and even more chances to expand. 

“I felt kind of nervous; what I wrote about was pretty personal, so I was kind of just iffy about it,but I was glad that I did it,” Good-Jessen said. “You never know, and I mean it’s money, it’s great for you anyway, and so you can just be creative. You can write about pretty much anything, so it’s a good opportunity.”

All writers are unique in their own right. The second-place winner, junior Patience Frame, feels that there were a lot of competitors that deserved some semblance of exposure. 

“I don’t know many other people’s stories and I didn’t read through however many kids there were,” Frame said. “But I feel like there definitely could have been other people that had my spot.”

Entering such an event can be a big step toward success and personal development. It offers a concrete objective to work for and shows dedication to one’s craft. The process of getting a piece ready for competition and submitting it may be just as fulfilling as the result, giving one a sense of pride and accomplishment. The third-place winner, junior Bella Nelson, certainly felt proud once she discovered her placement.        

“‘I was surprised when they told me that I had won third place,” Nelson said. “I guess I didn’t really think that I had the ability to write a story that was great enough, but it’ll clearly impact some people’s lives.”

For writers, entering and getting ready for submissions can be a disciplined procedure. Setting goals, meeting deadlines, and developing the confidence to put one’s work out into the world. For a writer hoping to pursue a career in literature, these are crucial abilities, and entering contests like this one may be able to lead them on the right path.

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