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2016 American Heritage Scholarship Program

Above is the top award winner (2016): Daniyel Wiggins from Whitmore Charter High ($1,500), Taryn Lane from Oakdale High ($2,000), Jessica Doxey from Gregori High ($1,500)

This was the 15th year of the American Heritage Scholarship Program, which includes a public lecture and an essay competition for Stanislaus County juniors and seniors.

Application Materials:

Writing Resources

Overview of Past Winners & Prompts


The American Heritage Scholarship Program seeks to increase our understanding of what it means to be an American. Unlike other nations, the essence of American nationality has little to do with our country of origin or the specifics of our religious faith. While the American spirit embraces such diversity, what unites us as a people is a shared set of principles and ideals which proclaim our freedoms and set forth our responsibilities.

This program is intended to encourage teens, and the public, to think about what makes the United States unique in the world, with a focus on the Constitution. Previous lectures have looked at the Patriot Act, the First Amendment, the separation of church and state, and the role of political parties.

This year's essay prompt was:

Recently, propositions to decriminalize, or legalize, the recreational use of marijuana have been introduced at the federal, state and local levels of government. The movement has been met with oppositional efforts by State and local municipalities, particularly enforcement officials, who wish to maintain marijuana’s status as a prohibited substance. Although these groups may hold opposing viewpoints (even amongst themselves), voters, interest groups, elected officials and government agencies have a vested interest in this potentially volatile initiative.

Who in our system of government should have the power to decide on the legality of the recreational use of marijuana?

The presentation occurred on: September 27, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. at the Beyer High School Theater, located at 1717 Sylvan Ave., Modesto 95355. 

The video of the September 27th lecture featuring guest speakers, Jeff Darnell, John Lee, and Ruben Villalobos was available via live stream and is now archived for viewing above. To view this presentation on September 27th or a later date, please click on the link above.

Rules and applications for the essay contest were sent to high schools in the county and are also available online. All juniors and seniors including public, private, and home-schooled students were encouraged to enter.

More information is available from the Stanislaus County Office of Education, 238-1706, a lead sponsor of the event. Modesto City Schools and The Modesto Bee also are sponsors, with scholarship funding provided by local businesses, organizations and individuals.

Funding for 2016, was provided by:

Jack and Pam Able
Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Rudd & Romo
Bank of Stockton-Modesto Commerce Branch
Ramon & Barbara Bawanan
Tom & Dianne Changnon
Mike Dunbar
E. & J. Gallo Winery
Danielle Emel
James & Carol Enochs
Curtis & Nancy Grant
Teresa Alley & Robert Hampton
Judy Herrero
Kathy Hobby
Kiwanis of Greater Turlock
Modesto Rotary Club
North Modesto Kiwanis Club
Fred & Susan Rich
James & Peggy Shiovitz
Varco Pruden
Waterford Lions Club
Sue & Lynn Zwahlen

The American Heritage Awards Ceremony occurred on November 17, at 7:00 pm at the Stanislaus County Office of Education Board Room at 1100 H Street in Modesto. 

195 students from 13 high schools entered the American Heritage Essay competition this year. Nineteen student essays were selected to receive scholarships by a panel of judges that consisted of educators, community members, and Superior Court Judges. The list of scholarship winners are below:

2016 Scholarship Winners
Award Name School
$2,000 Taryn Lane Oakdale High
$1,500 Jessica Doxey Gregori High
$1,500 Daniyel Wiggins Whitmore Charter High
$1,000 Madelyn Doxey Gregori High
$1,000 Jenna Tobin Gregori High
$500 Denae Fargo Johansen High
$500 Azriel Montalvo Whitmore Charter High
$500 Annalise Vander Veen Oakdale High
$500 Elizabeth White Oakdale High
$100 Rachel Brown Whitmore Charter High
$100 Jose Carranza Johansen High
$100 Ashley Chan Gregori High
$100 Max Chaves Central Valley High
$100 Emily Doxey Gregori High
$100 Abigail Fletcher Whitmore Charter High
$100 Hannah Hernandez Gregori High
$100 Anne Homer Oakdale High
$100 Savannah Larsen Oakdale High
$100 Anna Rohrer Whitmore Charter High
                                                    Total Awards: $10,000



Windows Media


The lecture video is available in Windows Media Format for Mac/ PC.
For more information please visit the Windows Media Player website