Operation Our Town Essay Contest Winner


Ice cream! Courtney Irwin poses with all the sponsors of the contest. Pictured here are Barb Harpster, Media Consultant of The Altoona Mirror, Joe Meadows, Partner of The Meadows Original Frozen Custard of Hollidaysburg and Fred Imler Sr., President of Imler’s Poultry. “The prize was 250 dollars in gift cards from the sponsors,” Irwin said.

Operation Our Town has chosen a winner for The Best Me Is Drug Free essay contest; Courtney Irwin, an eighth grade student, at AAJHS, won the competition. The topic of the essay was about why people choose to give into peer pressure from those who use drugs and some of the best ways to avoid giving into peer pressure. The due date for submission was November 5, 2020, and over 80 essays were entered; 40 alone came from the AAJHS. Irwin’s English teacher, Mrs. Miriam Colledge, pushed the opportunity out to all of her students to complete. You can read Irwin’s essay at operationourtown.org or by clicking here.

Mrs. Colledge offered this as an assignment for extra credit. Irwin took this opportunity to show her writing skills. 

“I thought it was a nice blend of creativity and informative writing,” Colledge said when asked about Irwin’s prowess. She thought Irwin did an amazing job. Colledge also thought Irwin expressed her passion about this topic very well. 

‘It is very near and dear to many students’ hearts as the prompt was very relative to this age group. Additionally, College thought that Courtney wrote an exceptional piece,” Colledge said. 

“I was so excited about this prompt that I started almost immediately after we were given the assignment. I would say I was very passionate about writing it,” Irwin said. Because of her passion, the essay stood out among the rest. But what really made it stand out was that Irwin began the piece with a fictional scenario. 

It’s an attention grabber. I decided to start my essay with something that unfortunately kids face. I hoped it would make teenagers more likely to read it,” she said. Irwin wanted to get the message across that it is okay to say no when you feel uncomfortable. She did just that and won $250.00 in gift cards to The Meadows Original Frozen Custard.