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2016 American Heritage Scholarship Program

Above is the top award winner (2015): John Perez from Beyer High ($1,500), Kara Liu from Beyer High School ($2,000), Christopher Pack from Whitmore Charter High($1,500)

This is the 14th 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 is:

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 is slated for September 27, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. at the Beyer High School Theater, located at 1717 Sylvan Ave., Modesto 95355. 

Video of the September 27th lecture featuring guest speakers, Jeff Darnell, John Lee, and Ruben Villalobos will be available via live stream and archived for viewing at a future date. To view this presentation on September 27th or a later date, please click on the link above.

Rules and applications for the essay contest have been sent to high schools in the county and are also available online. All juniors and seniors including public, private, and home-schooled students are 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, is provided by:

Pam & Jack Able

Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo

Bank of Stockton

Ramon & Barbara Bawanan

Tom & Dianne Changnon

E. & J. Gallo Winery

Danielle Emel

James & Carol Enochs

Curtis & Nancy Grant

Robert Hampton & Teresa Alley

Judy Herrero

Kiwanis Club of Greater Turlock

Modesto Rotary

Fred & Susan Rich

James & Peggy Shiovitz

Waterford Lions Club

Sue Zwahlen

The American Heritage Awards Ceremony is scheduled for November 17, at 7:00 pm at the Stanislaus County Office of Education Board Room at 1100 H Street in Modesto.  We hope you will be able to join us for the culminating celebration of this exciting project.

137 students from 10 high schools entered the American Heritage Essay competition last year. Nineteen student essays were selected to receive scholarships by a panel of judges that consisted of educators, community members, and Superior Court Judges.









2015 Scholarship Winners
First Name Last Name School Award
Kara Liu Beyer High $2,000
Christopher Pack Whitmore Charter High $1,500
John Perez Beyer High $1,500
Kristina Chan Gregori High $1,000
Kassandra Ramsdell Gregori High $1,000
Emma Boggs Oakdale High $500
Kendall  Smith Central Catholic High $500
Sarah Sorenson Oakdale High $500
Ethan Yeaman Oakdale High $500
Christian Armstrong Oakdale High $100
Elisabeth Hayes Gregori High $100
Jenna Ingles Oakdale High $100
Nathaniel Jensen Gregori High $100
Christopher Moya Johansen High $100
Adriana Munoz Gregori High $100
Hannah Neeley Gregori High $100
Emanuel Perez Johansen High $100
Austin Romito Oakdale High $100
Jessica Tran Johansen High $100
    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