Why College is Awesome Essay Contest Winners

May 4th 2012

Twenty six local students have written a new chapter into the annual Awesome 3000 on it's 30th Anniversary.  They have been awarded the first Why College is Awesome essay contest awards sponsored by the Oregon College Savings Plan.  For their winning essay, each student receives a $1000 Oregon College Savings Plan account.  

341 students submitted entries.  They were read and scored by a committee of literacy and writing professionals.  98 elementary students from 24 schools, 142 middle school students from 11 schools and 101 students from 8 schools and some home schools students submitted essay.  Students were asked to  paint a mental picture with drawings and/or words, keep the reader interested, and be a creative, yet 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.  Carter Parent, age 6 and a kindergarten student from Myers Elementary wrote, "  College is awesome because you live somewhere new, you learn new things, and you prepare for an important job."

Dr. Barb Bamford, Secondary literacy and language arts specialist, Salem-Keizer School District was ecstatic about this opportunity for students.  " Opportunities like this give kids an authentic audience and purpose which is essential to developing the craft of writing, ups the ante when kids are passionate about their writing particularly when there such a significant purpose for their writing.   Dr. Barb Bamford, Secondary literacy and language arts specialist, Salem-Keizer School District.

Winners by Grade: Click Names to View Awesome Essay's

Kindergarten   Carter Parent, Myers Elementary;  Ryder Story,  Bennett Pearson Academy Charter            

First Grade      Mihir Joshi,  McKinley Elementary; John Madland , McKinley Elementary

Second Grade  Camille Steen, Pringle Elementary Mariana Acosta, Harritt Elementary

Third Grade     Jennifer Parker, Chapman Hill Elementary; Ian Tardif, Englewood Elementary

Fourth Grade   Julius Scott,  Bush ElementaryIsabelle Knorr, Harritt Elementary

Fifth Grade      Megha Joshi, Pringle Elementary; Alyssa Khieu, Hammond Elementary

Sixth Grade      Emily Newton, Crossler; Daniel Zwemke, Whiteaker

Seventh Grade Alaa Hussein, Claggett Creek; Ben Beckstrom, Walker

Eight Grade     Blake Gerstner, Whiteaker; Claire Read, Houck

Grade 9:          Khawater Hussein, McNary; Carolina Altamiroano, McNary

Grade 10:         Lydia Nichol, home school; Michaela Roberts, North

Grade 11:         Delia Torres-Enciso, North; Victoria Roseborough, South

Grade 12:         Giovanna Casas Reyes, West; Bethany Johnson, Sprague

 All contest awards are in the form of an Oregon College Savings Plan account. Winners will receive detailed information on how to claim their awards. All contest awards must be claimed by June 30, 2012, or the award will be forfeited. Winners are responsible for any costs they incur to claim their award, including any tax liability.

About the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation

The Salem-Keizer Education Foundation is a catalyst for enhancing the education of Salem-Keizer public 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 $760 million in assets. Since 2010, the plan has been managed by TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc.  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