American Dream Essay Contest

High school students from across the state are challenged to examine their personal beliefs and ethics to pen an essay based on those beliefs.

The American Dream Essay Contest awards thousands of dollars each year to the student authors of the winning compositions.

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 is invited to participate by asking students in grades 9-12, to reflect on the ten principles and write an essay based on their own personal beliefs or guiding forces.

Monetary awards are given for first, second, and third place winners from each school. The first place local winner is then forwarded to the state competition. The top essay on the state level wins $5,000.00 cash, second place receives $3,000.00 and third, $2,000.00.

In addition, teachers receive monetary awards for participation and prize money if their student’s essay places at the state level. Last year, a total of $35,000.00 was awarded in prize money!

The American Dream Essay

Contest is sponsored by the Templeton Foundation, Zimmerman Family Foundation, Robert P. Schuster, Larry and Margo Bean, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming.

For more information, visit or contact Sherman Hill at (307) 473-5553.

Gwenna Lesko
Excerpt from 2017 Entry

A house is where you live and a home is where you want to be. A house is where you gather memories and a home is where you live memories. Do you see any difference? A home is where you find new friends, bring old friends.

Julia Jordan
Excerpt from 2017 Entry

Excerpt Coming Soon                                    

Greta Miron
Excerpt from 2017 Entry

My family is what makes my house a home. We do family game nights and sometimes we watch a movie or show. My family likes to play and laugh together.

Presentation with the
Dayton Dragons


Destiny Giles
Photo from 2016


Xenia Community Schools


Mackenzie Dix
Excerpt from 2016 Entry

My home is not just a place where I sleep and spend my free time. My home is where my memories come to mind and where my love lies. It’s what protects me from the real world and its many twists. I will always depend on my home, it will forever be my safe place.

Alex Smith
Excerpt from 2016 Entry

The loud clanks of the factory made the whole room sound like it was of metal. I slid down the conveyor belts, making the nails shine, gears crank, and tools clank as new as the rising sun! I checked my factory top to bottom to make sure everything was operating correctly. Suddenly, a red alert appeared on the giant television! Sirens rang throughout the gray building, illuminating the building in bold red lights. The door shook and someone appeared out of the starry night sky! A giant burst through the door of the room, knocking me off my feet into the cardboard wall of my tiny factory. A soft, stern tone rang out into the main hall. It sounded to me in a booming voice ready for bed! Not wanting to argue, I just groaned, cleaned up, got ready to fall asleep. I waited in rest for another day of adventures...I didn't know it at the time, but my imagination, personality, and creativity make my house a haven to dream big about the future.

Claudia Imwalle
Excerpt from 2016 Entry

The thing that makes my house a home is all the love that comes with it. Home is a place where you can go when you are having a bad, frustrating, or awful day. Homes can comfort you and let you know you are safe. A home is also a place where you can go when you are having the best day of your life and it will let you be completely ecstatic. Houses can be big, small, tall, short, fancy, or unusual, but that's not what makes your house your home. Not just anyone can walk into my family's home and feel anything special, but to me every spot in my home has a memory, some love, and a piece of me.

Grace Hayden
Photo from 2016


Heleena Cornwell
Excerpt from 2016 Entry


Abigail Wonders
Excerpt from 2016 Entry

Traditions, Love and Connection make a house a home.

Sam Michael
Excerpt from 2016 Entry

It is important that you have a house to live in or else if you don’t have a home…where would you live? It would be hard to find a home unless you build one (which would be hard). It would not be hard if you found someone to help you. Home is a very special place! Be glad that you have a home.

Aiesha Hamilton
Excerpt from 2015 Entry

Family is an important thing in our home. It’s important to have people in your life that are honest, trustworthy, and respectful. Having a place where you can enjoy yourself and just be you, have a good laugh or two. When things get bad you just sit around with each other and think about all the good times you once had and how your life isn’t over and that you can still have many more good times. Go out and make a new home everywhere just by creating friendships with others and just being you. Home is a place of happiness and it doesn’t have to be a true house. Home is wherever you are happy.

Anastasia Bishop
Video from 2015 Entry


Sean Pluger
Excerpt from 2015 Entry

Most people have moved once, twice, or maybe even three times in their lives. But not me! In my twelve years of life, I have lived in nine different houses and have moved thirteen times. Three of the houses I have lived in have been in the sub-saharan African country of Zambia. Throughout all of this, I have learned that home is not just a house or an apartment - it is where the people you care about are.

Jaden Bowen
Excerpt from 2015 Entry

What makes my house a home is making it my sanctuary. It’s the place where I feel safe, where memories are made, and where I will grow up. My sanctuary represents what I love the most in that room, like paintings, furnishings, and hanging of pictures and posters. From Cesare Pavses, “we don’t remember the days, we remember the moments,” explaining once my sanctuary is made that’s where I feel and act your best because I’m safe and relaxed.”

Riley Connors
Excerpt from 2015 Entry

Home gives us a lot of things, but you should focus on the things that matter. We should not focus on how our home looks because that does not make a difference. Where we live does not matter either. Our home gives us safety and makes us feel secure. The most important thing about home is the loving family inside.

Jorryn Gauthier
Excerpt from 2015 Entry

A home is a place you grow and flourish in your family's love. A place where you play board games with the family and eat homemade meals that warm your stomach. A home is where you make memories that will be stuck in your head even until you're eighty. Don't take your home for granted, some people don't have homes to come to each night. Home is love. So love your home.

Daniel Short
Excerpt from 2015 Entry

My home is really about family, friends, and time together. It is where knowing and helping each other has always been the main focus....But what is really special about my family and what makes my house a home is the music that runs through it, bouncing off every floor and hallway, upstairs and downstairs and everywhere in between. As my oldest brother plays a silver saxophone, my other brother plays a shiny black grand piano. While I play my bright wooden drum set, my dad plays his golden brass trumpet or sometimes his wooden guitar, My mom, well, let's just say she claps her hands off rhythm, but she makes food that makes us sing! Every night we praise God for our gifts and little riches, and pray for those who are in need.

Jackson Ewing
Excerpt from 2015 Entry

Without voices, songs, guitars, steps, bacon, and the people I love, my home would not feel like home. I need my family and God for my home to feel like one. My home keeps me protected and joyous, and God knows me and loves me there.

Anna Marie Pickens
Video from 2015 Entry


Andrew Riddle
Excerpt from 2015 Entry

Every night when I go to bed I feel safe under my warm covers. I delight in hearing crickets chirping at night as I drift off to sleep. The house I live in is not just a house but a home. My home would not be a home without the people inside it. It would not be home if God had not blessed me with such a great family.

Rebecca Brown
Excerpt from 2015 Entry

My room is my favorite room in the house because I can sit and relax or listen to music on my radio or iPod. It is a peaceful place except for when my hamster, Freddy, runs on his wheel. I love my room and everything in it.

Kelsey Towle
Excerpt from 2015 Entry

Houses just aren't the same without people. People take good care of houses, so houses give us shelter in return. A house is not just the bricks, the roof and the paint color. It is about the people inside the house. If I, my dad, my mom, my sister, and my bunny weren't in my house then my house would be sad, lonely and terrible....Don't judge a home by how it looks on the outside, instead look at the love of the family living inside the house. A house is not a home without a family living inside.

Claire Kuprowicz
Excerpt from 2014 Entry

Home. It's the place where my brother and I argue about who gets the fuzzy blankets, the place where I can always smell the delicious scent of my mother's yummy desserts cooling and baking, where my father dries my tears of joy or sadness, where all the high-fives and hugs are, where shouts of victory are made by everyone. As soon as I walk up the stairs to my porch, I feel like I am where I belong. The birds seem to be chirping even if they really aren't, the sun seems to be shining even though it really isn't, and I get in a happy, I-woke-up-on-the-right-side-of-the-bed-today mood.

Josh Hamilton
Excerpt from 2014 Entry

If I had to pick somewhere to stay for the rest of my life, it would definitely be home. But, my dad is willing to sacrifice being at home. Instead, he serves our country in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, we are at home, preparing for him to come home. That is what makes my house a home to me.

Mathias Ewing
Excerpt from 2014 Entry

I have a big home, it's really, really old,
But the color I'm not so sure, it's a little bit bold.
My dad built it with his hands,
when he was finished, he had a big band.
My dad makes his music loud and some of it is good,
but I wait a minute and then I'm in the mood.


Bradley Ashcraft
Excerpt from 2014 Entry

Do you know what is better than one home? Two homes! I have an awesome dad and step mom, and an awesome mom and step dad. I spend time with both grandparents who I adore. A home to me is more than sticks and stones. It is made of love, trust, happiness, and respect. It is not always easy, but that is o.k. The house is nothing without the people and animals inside, and the things you do together are what really matters.

Anabelle Smith
Excerpt from 2014 Entry

A home does not have to be a place. It can be a state of mind or a person. Anything that makes you feel peaceful, like you belong to something. If someone does not have a warm place to call home, they could feel at home in their own thoughts, in a notebook, or singing or playing football. Whatever makes you feel accepted and whatever feels natural and familiar. You know your way around, you understand how things work, and you love everyone who shares that home with you.

Jenna Nelson
Excerpt from 2014 Entry

Home is where my heart is and where I will always be. It is... the place where fun is, where bonds grow stronger and where trust is so important. Home is the place where do-overs happen and hugs are ways of payment. It is the place where 'I love yous' live and laughter rings through the house…home is staying up late under my covers with a flashlight and reading until midnight. It’s where I come to rest each and every night. Home is coming in from a magical world outside with dirty pants and shirts telling of our adventures under the sea and in the trees. It is home cooked meals at the dinner table telling what part of the day was our favorite and what parts were our worst. Most of all, home is with my family.

Ruby Young
Video from 2014 Entry


Debby Kuruvilla
Excerpt from 2014 Entry

Dear Diary,
...I've been thinking a lot lately about my home; not the house itself, but the people in it and what makes us unique. My family has people from all around the world, and that does cause people to take a second glance at our colorful entourage. The cultures of India, The United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Ghana, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Costa Rica, and America all blend together to form an inimitable family that I am proud to call my own.

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