American Heritage Scholarship Program


This year was the 16th year of the American Heritage Scholarship Program is a partnership between The Modesto Bee, Stanislaus County Office of Education, and Modesto City Schools, which includes a public lecture and an essay competition for Stanislaus County High School juniors and seniors. Students from public, private, and charter schools were encouraged to apply.

Above are the top three scholarship award winners (left to right): Timea Friesen of Waterford High School ($1,500), Hannah Young of Gregori High School ($2,000), and Kaitlynn Tran of Gregori High School ($1,500)

362 students from 13 high schools entered the American Heritage Essay competition this year. 19 student essays were selected to receive scholarships by a panel of judges that consisted of educators, community members, and Superior Court Judges. 

Award Name High School
$2,000 Young, Hannah Gregori High School
$1,500 Friesen, Timea Waterford High School
$1,500 Tran, Kaitlynn Gregori High School
$1,000 Fahlen, Carmen Gregori High School
$1,000 Pabalan, Russell Oakdale High School
$500 Hijaouy, Zakaria Gregori High School
$500 Jara, Garrett Gregori High School
$500 Oliveira, Tyler Gregori High School
$500 Spani, Shawn Oakdale High School
$100 Bowman, Corina Gregori High School
$100 Chhaly, Tristan Gregori High School
$100 Glodek, Juliana Gregori High School
$100 Hopkins, Joshua Gregori High School
$100 Jensen, Alexander Gregori High School
$100 Meyer, Micaela Gregori High School
$100 Rohrer, Anna Whitmore Charter High School
$100 Swanberg, Joy Gregori High School
$100 Swartz, Katherine Gregori High School
$100 Tan, Aron Christopher Lee Gregori High School

2017 Essay Prompt

Is the death penalty constitutional? The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from inflicting “cruel and unusual punishments.” Many believe depriving someone of his or her life is “cruel,” “unusual,” and immoral, and therefore unconstitutional. Others feel some crimes—treason, murder with special circumstances, killing members of law enforcement, etc.—require the ultimate punishment. Take a position and defend your point of view using logical argument and citations to relevant historical, social, and legal sources.

Guest Speaker Presentation

Aaron Pennekamp is an associate in the San Francisco office of Munger, Tolles & Olson.

Mr. Pennekamp earned his law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center, where he served as the editor in chief of The Georgetown Law Journal. He received his undergraduate degree in international politics from Georgetown University, where he graduated magna cum laude and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. While attending law school, Mr. Pennekamp also served in the Virginia Army National Guard. He deployed to Iraq in 2010 as an infantry rifle platoon leader. Mr. Pennekamp joined the firm after clerkships with Justice Stephen G. Breyer of the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge John D. Bates of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Click here to view (Courtesy of Downey High School): https://youtue/.bN0Ms7wPw0hY

Scholarship Funding 

This program is entirely funded by generous community members, businesses, and organizations. (Interested donors may reach out all throughout the year to SCOE at 238-1701 to support this program) Funding for 2017 Scholarships were received from:

Bank of Stockton
Ramon and Barbara Bawanan
E. & J. Gallo Winery
Tom & Dianne Changnon
Mike Dunbar 
James & Carol Enochs 
Curtis & Nancy Grant 
Robert Hampton & Teresa Alley 
Judy Herrero
Kathy Hobby
Kiwanis Club of Greater Turlock
Ben Kuykendall 
Law Offices of Frank M. Lima
Modesto Irrigation District
Mocse Credit Union
Modesto Lion’s Club
Modesto Sunset Lion’s Club
Aaron Pennekamp, Associate Attorney 
Martin & Sharon Peterson
Fred & Susan Rich
Douglass Ridenour
Col. & Mrs. John S. Rogers, ASAF (RET.)
James & Peggy Shiovitz
Turlock Irrigation District
Doug and Brenda Ulrich

SCOE Provides 

2016 Packet & Winners

2015 Packet & Winners

Contact Us

1100 H Street
Modesto, CA 95354
Mon.-Fri. 8am-5pm


2017 Guest Speaker Presentation
2017 Guest Speaker Presentation

Mission Statement

Mission Statement 

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.

Vision Statement 

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.

Key Contacts

Susan Rich
Susan Rich
Assistant Superintendent, SCOE Administrative Services
Valerie Escobar
Executive Assistant, SCOE Administrative Services