A Natrona County High School student took a traumatic experience as a young child and turned it into a lesson in living with courage, earning her the top prize at the American Dream Essay Contest. …
A Natrona County High School student took a traumatic experience as a young child and turned it into a lesson in living with courage, earning her the top prize at the American Dream Essay Contest. Lilyan Byrd received $5,300 for her essay titled “Too Young.” She bravely recounted what her mind allowed her to remember of an assault that happened to her before she was even old enough to be in kindergarten. Byrd wrote that “courage isn’t something that can be taught. It is something that must be found from within.” Her essay was chosen as the winning entry out of nearly 800 essays submitted in the statewide competition.
Meanwhile, Leo Horsen from Meeteetse High School received $3,300 for his second-place essay; Jordi Knudson from Buffalo won $2,300 after taking third place. Honorable mentions and $1,000 went to Barrett Lloyd of Kelly Walsh High School in Casper and Jolie Strahan of Wyoming Virtual Academy.
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 10 principles and writing an essay based on their own personal beliefs or guiding forces.
A total of 799 students, representing 28 schools, participated this year. Monetary awards are given for first, second and third place 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. Sponsoring teachers also receive monetary incentives for participation and a prize if their student’s essay wins at the state level.
More than $39,750 was awarded in prize money.
The American Dream Essay contest is sponsored by the Zimmerman Family Foundation, Larry and Margo Bean, Hilltop Bank, Kevin and Julie Murphy and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming.