Washougal, Wash. — Students from Washougal schools have earned recognition in three prestigious Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) competitions: the Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest, Voice of Democracy audio-essay scholarship program, and the State Jr. Essay awards. The accolades celebrate the thoughtful articulation of American values and democracy by students from Jemtegaard Middle School, Canyon Creek Middle School, Gause Elementary, Columbia River Gorge Elementary, and Washougal High School.
Jordan Stepp, the 1st place regional winner for the Voice of Democracy audio essay scholarship program, emphasized the importance of democracy, stating, “Democracy is important because it means everyone has a voice.” Veterans from VFW Post 4278 presented the awards during visits to classrooms across the Washougal School District this winter.
In the Patriot’s Pen essay contest, middle school participants were challenged to describe their inspiration from America. Students Emberlee Ellsworth, Kaidence Powell, Natalie Lawrence, Kylie Woodruff, and Sky Pineda-Lamkin received awards for their essays at Jemtegaard Middle School. At Canyon Creek Middle School, 7th grade student Avery Crain was recognized for her outstanding work in the Patriot’s Pen contest during a school-wide assembly on January 11, 2024.
Three elementary students, Anava Grundy and Joela Grundy from Columbia River Gorge Elementary, and Scout Eldridge from Gause Elementary, secured top positions in the State Jr. Essay competition, showcasing their clear and creative thoughts on democracy.
Washougal High School students excelled in the VFW Voice of Democracy Program, with veterans from VFW Post 4278 honoring Jordan Stepp, Ellie Dryden, and Claire Zakovics for their exceptional understanding and appreciation of democratic values. Jordan Stepp (1st place) will receive a $600 award, Ellie Dryden (3rd place) will be granted a $300 scholarship, and Claire Zakovics (4th place) will receive a $200 scholarship.