American Dream Essay Contest 2015

Our “My Home: The American Dream” contest is an annual essay contest where local students are invited to write about what makes their house a home. Some entries are funny, some evoke tears, and some will leave you speechless with the insight beyond their years. We allow entries to be submitted in a myriad of formats (so it doesn’t have to be JUST an essay!) and this year we received poems, videos, PowerPoint presentations, poster boards, comic strips, and even a handcrafted sculpture or two! The creativity, thoughtfulness, and love that comes from these children leaves us feeling inspired while giving us the opportunity to reminisce about our own childhood memories of tree forts, sibling rivalry and the long-deceased yet still much-loved family pets.

The 2015-2016 contest has come to an end along with the school year, and we are SO excited to share the winners with you. Out of hundreds submitted, the winning entries captured the hearts of the judges while standing out in creativity, originality and overall quality. They were judged in three age groups, and from each age group there is a Grand Prize Winner ($500 award) and 2 Runner-up Winners ($100 award).

2nd-4th Grade Age Group:

-Heleena Cornwell, Grand Prize, Stingley Elementary, Steve Huff’s class, 4th grade

 Heleena Cornwell accepting her award on the field during a Dayton Dragon's Game, Pictured with Laura Quinn, Director of Marketing with Coldwell Banker Heritage.

Check out her amazing video!

“Home is a place to learn and to grow,
Home is a place where you are on the go,
Home is a place to become pro.
Home is a place to tell and to show.
Home is a place to let them know.
Home is a place to let loose and have fun.
Home is a place to watch the sun.
Home is a place to lift a ton.
Home is a place to help someone.
Home is a place to become one.
A Home is just four walls and a roof, which have no meaning,
Until the people inside make the house look gleaming.”  

-Abigail Wonders, Runner-up, Cedarville Elementary, Paula Treisch’s class, 4th grade


Awards Presentation at Cedarville Elementary...Last day of school!

“Traditions, Love and Connection make a house a home.” -Sam Michael, Runner-up, Xenia Christian, Mrs. Bush’s class, 2nd grade


“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.”  

5th-6th Grade Age Group:-Alex Smith, Grand Prize, Incarnation School, Mrs. Horwath’s class, 6th grade

Alex Smith, Grand Prize Winner, with Rick Heben, General Manager of Coldwell Banker Heritage Realtors

“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.”

Incarnation Winners, Alex Smith, Grace Hayden and Claudia Imwalle, with Coldwell Banker Reps Melissa and Marcia Heben, and their teacher Mrs. Horwath (back right) 

-Grace Hayden, Runner-up, Incarnation School, Mrs. Horwath’s class, 6th grade (Poster entry)-Claudia Imwalle, Runner-up, Incarnation School, Mrs. Horwath’s class, 6th grade

“My stairs are not just pieces of wood put together by nails. My stairs are where my sisters and I rode our sled down in the summer because we wished it was winter. The corner of my living room is not just a dusty corner; to me it is where we put our Christmas tree every year which brings so much joy and Christmas spirit to our home. My front door is not just a big block of wood. My front door is where I first saw where I would live. Every object in my house has a piece of me and my family that goes along with it, because our house makes up our family, and all the things in my house makes up our home.”

7th-8th Grade Age Group: -Destiny Giles, Grand Prize, Warner Middle School, Ronna Couser’s class, 8th grade

Destiny Giles, Grand Prize Winner, with Ron Sweeney, Managing Partner of Coldwell Banker Heritage

“My house is a home because it’s the place where my true happiness lies. What I come home from a really long day or practice, my dog greets me at the door, wagging her tail and showing me tons of love. Typically my brother is chasing my sister around the house and they’re both yelling and screaming, my mom is cooking dinner or reading a book, while I’m off listening to music being far from the average teenage girl. All of the noise that goes on around my house always reassures me that I’m home.”

-Kelli Hatfield, Runner-up, Warner Middle School, Ronna Couser’s class, 8th grade (not pictured)
“What makes my house a home is my family. The dings, scratches, and flaws of your home. The rituals you create from Saturday movie night to Sunday morning baking; it all counts. The old quilts that will never let go of; your childhood memories. Above all, it’s about the memories you make.”

-Mackenzie Dix, Runner-up, Tipp City Middle School, Mrs. Kleather’s class, 7th grade 

 Tipp City Middle School Awards Presentation

“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.”   

MacKenzie Dix with her teacher, Mrs. Kleather

Laura Quinn, Coldwell Banker Heritage's Director of Marketing presenting the award 

Here is a video of the grand prize winner's presentation with the Dayton Dragons:

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these clips, and stay tuned for our contest next year! LIKE OUR FACEBOOK PAGE to be the first to learn about it; next year marks our tenth year anniversary for the contest (as well as the 50 year mark as a company!) so we have some BIG things in store!   For more information about this contest, please visit the contest website at

Written by Laura Quinn, Marketing Director, Coldwell Banker Heritage

Casper Teen Awarded for Essay

Lily Lower, NCHS senior, is awarded first place in the 2016 American Dream Essay Contest. ©BGCCW2016

A Natrona County High School Senior has the winning entry for the American Dream Essay Contest. Lily Lower received a total of $5,300 for her essay titled “Let Life Be”. It was chosen as the top entry out of more than 600 essays submitted in the statewide competition.

Calbi Ausmann, Newcastle senior, is awarded 2nd place in the 2016 American Dream Contest. ©BGCCW2016


Brianna Reeves, Torrington senior, is awarded 3rd place in the 2016 American Dream Essay Contest. ©BGCCW2016


Calbi Ausmann from Newcastle received $3,300 for her second place essay and Brianna Reeves from Torrington won $1,800 for her third place essay. The awards were handed out Sunday in Casper. Senator John Barrasso addressed the crowd with wisdom from his own parents including what his mother always told him “This is the most important year of your life!” He also encouraged the students to “Aim so high that you will never get bored.”


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.


A total of 664 students, representing 25 schools, participated in this year’s contest. Monetary awards are given for first, second, and third place winners on the local level. The first place winner from each school is forwarded to the state competition where their essay was evaluated by a separate panel of judges to determine the state winner. The top essay wins $5,000 cash, second place receives $3,000 and third $1,500. Sponsoring teachers also receive monetary incentives for participation and a prize if their student’s essay wins at the state level. A total of $35,000 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.

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