Scholarship essay wins Oakdale girl $2,000

Oakdale High School senior Amanda Martin won the $2,000 first prize in this year's American Heritage Scholarship Series competition. The honor was announced Thursday evening.

Oakdale students claimed the four top prizes in the competition, which this year was tied to the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.

Students heard a lecture by University of California at Berkeley law professor Daniel Farber, and using that and independent research were assigned to "identify the three constitutional issues in Lincoln's presidency that you believe have the greatest applicability to contemporary American problems."

Martin wrote about state vs. federal sovereignty, restricting civil liberties and the exercise of presidential power in times of war. Her essay is posted at

A panel of educators and community representatives screened 152 essays from 14 high schools. The winners were chosen by a panel of Stanislaus County Superior Court judges.

The competition, in its eighth year, is sponsored by the Stanislaus County Office of Education, the Modesto City Schools and The Modesto Bee. Scholarship funding is provided by local businesses, organizations and individuals.

The other scholarship winners:

Second prize ($1,500 each): Cyrus VandenBerghe and Korinne Baxter, both seniors at Oakdale;

Third prize ($1,000): Lauren Danner, senior, Oakdale;

Fourth ($500 each): Kelly Lonergan, junior, Johansen High; Nathaniel O'Leary, junior, Modesto Christian; Zachary Weber Reitz, senior, and Joshua Lownsbery, senior, both Oakdale;

$100 prize winners: Daniel Belaski and William Berryhill, both of Central Valley (Ceres); Nicolaus Coleman, Turlock; Rechard Francois and Kenny Rorabaugh, Johansen; Faith Grochau-Wright, Davis High; Michael Homer, Todd Medema and Alison Southard, all of Oakdale, and Katherine Morrett, Hughson.

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