Washougal students 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 awards reflect the efforts of students from Jemtegaard Middle School, Canyon Creek Middle School, Gause Elementary, Columbia River Gorge Elementary and Washougal High School to thoughtfully articulate their understanding and appreciation of American values and democracy.

“Democracy is important because it means everyone has a voice,” said Jordan Stepp, 1st place regional winner for the Voice of Democracy audio essay scholarship program. Veterans from VFW Post 4278 visited classrooms across Washougal School District to present the awards this winter.

Elementary and Middle School Essay Contest Winners

Middle school participants in the Patriot’s Pen essay contest were challenged to describe how they are inspired by America. Students Emberlee Ellsworth, Kaidence Powell, Natalie Lawrence, Kylie Woodruff, and Sky Pineda-Lamkin were awarded for their essays in the Patriot’s Pen competition at Jemtegaard Middle School. At Canyon Creek Middle School, 7th grade student Avery Crain placed in the Patriot’s Pen contest and was recognized at a school-wide assembly on January 11, 2024.

Three elementary students placed in the State Jr. Essay competition. Winners Anava Grundy and Joela Grundy (Columbia River Gorge Elementary), and Scout Eldridge (Gause Elementary) expressed their thoughts on democracy with clarity and creativity.

Gause student honored by uniformed Veterans of Foreign Wars with flowers and a certificate

WHS Students Awarded Voice of Democracy Program Scholarships

Washougal High School students also achieved success in the VFW Voice of Democracy Program. Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4278 recognized Jordan Stepp, Ellie Dryden, and Claire Zakovics for showcasing their exceptional understanding and appreciation of democratic values. Jordan Stepp (1st place) will receive a $600 award, Ellie Dryden (3rd place) will receive a $300 scholarship, and Claire Zakovics (4th place) will be awarded a $200 scholarship.