Why College is Awesome Essay Winners 2013

May 2nd 2013

Awesome Essays Worth $1,000 for College

Salem, OR May 1, 2013: Twenty-six local students have written a new chapter into the 31st annual Awesome 3000.  The Salem-Keizer Education Foundation has announced the winners of the second annual Why College is Awesome essay contest. Sponsored by the Oregon College Savings Plan, the essay winners each receive a $1000 Oregon College Savings Plan account. 

Read and scored by a committee of literacy and writing professionals, 467 students submitted entries including 200 elementary students from 27 schools, 109 middle school students from 12 schools and 158 students from 7 high schools and three home school students.  Students were asked to paint a mental picture with drawings and/or words, keep the reader interested, and give a creative, and succinct expression of why going to college is an awesome experience.

 Some student essays described how incredible it would be to be the first person in their family to attend college, while others knew the financial earning power a college diploma would provide.  Dara, a third grader, noted that education helps to develop our greatest ability. Casey, an eighth grader, used a baby bird metaphor and likened college to helping young birds grow feathers before being “shoved out of the nest.” And Brody, a kindergartner, pointed out that he needs college so he can get a job at the zoo feeding monkeys.

Janis Wurgler, a Salem-Keizer School District Elementary Literacy Specialist, was thrilled about this opportunity for students. “One of a writer's main goals is to communicate a message or idea in a way that reaches their readers,” Wurgler said. “The Why College is Awesome essay contest provides student writers with the opportunity to share their opinions in a real and authentic way to an audience beyond the classroom.  It gives them a chance to test the power of words and to witness the impact their writing can have on others.”

Why College is Awesome Essay Contest Winners for 2013

(Click the writer's name to read the essay)


Jackson Buckingham (McKinley Elementary)

Brody Fuhrman (Eagle Charter)

1st Grade

Samuel Hudspeth (Harritt Elementary)

Miriam Henderson (Keizer Elementary)

2nd Grade

Nathan Williams (Forest Ridge)

Milo Kingsley (Harritt Elementary)

3rd Grade

Dara Elkanah  (Pringle)

Rocco Jones  (McKinley)

4th Grade

Cathleen A. Rodriguez-Lantz (Valley Inquiry Charter)

Ali Byler (Candalaria Elementary)

5th Grade

Sarah Goldberg Edelson  (Candalaria Elementary)

Julie Chen (Candalaria Elementary)

6th Grade

Eden McCall (Judson)

Angel Huang (Crossler)

7th Grade

Adriana Escorcia (Stephens)

Hannah Sonnen (Walker)

8th Grade

Ben Beckstrom (Walker)

Casey Chaffin (Straub)

9th Grade

Aleysia Henry (McNary)

Adriana Moralez (McNary)

10th Grade:

Rachel Bass (West)

Nela Bayanoff (McNary)

11th Grade

Chloe Stewart (West)

Menley Neitzel (West)

12th  Grade

Daniela Seare (West)

Faye Barkley (West)


About the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation

The Salem-Keizer Education Foundation is a catalyst for enhancing the education of Salem-Keizer school students by providing resources for creative and innovative programs and materials, educating and mobilizing the community, and sustaining collaborative partnerships that support its goals.

The Awesome 3000 all-youth fun run is the organization’s signature event. The annual event is recognized as one of the largest children’s runs in the nation. Awesome proceeds and foundation sponsorships go toward some $50,000 in grants each year for original and motivational school programs. More than 1,000 grants totaling over $1,000,000 have been awarded to educators since 1982.  For more information about the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation, visit the website:

About The Oregon College Savings Plan

The Oregon College Savings Plan, which is part of the Oregon 529 College Savings Network, launched in January 2001 and has grown to more than $900 million in assets.  An account can be opened for as little as $25.  For more information about the Oregon College Savings Plan, its investment options and how to enroll, visit