Over 1,000 students participated in this year’s contest from 31 states. From those essays, teachers submitted their top selections resulting in over 450 entries. Winning essays came from students in Oklahoma, New Jersey, Kansas and Indiana.

Each winner will receive a cash prize and have the opportunity to be recognized at a ceremony at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum in March.

The Memorial’s 17th Annual Student Essay Contest allowed students the opportunity to share their views on relevant topics while engaging them in the lessons of the Memorial. The April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was the result of some individuals choosing violence to express disagreement and effect change. This evil act killed 168 innocent men, women and children.

This year’s Student Essay Contest encouraged students to think about the significance of healthy debate and how promoting civility is more important than ever in uniting our society.

17th Annual Student Essay Contest Winners

First Place – Avery O’Leary, 6th, Heartland Middle School, Edmond, OK
Second Place – Samantha Burkhead, 5th, Cleveland Elementary, Norman, OK
Third Place – Kember Sloat, 6th, Garber Public Schools, Garber, OK


First Place – Ruth Daly, 8th, Howell Middle School, Howell, NJ
Second Place – Sofia Jaber, 8th, Howell Middle School, Howell, NJ
Third Place – Ange Koffi, 8th, Howell Middle School, Howell, NJ


First Place – Mayra Lopez, 9th, Muskogee High School Muskogee, OK
Second Place – Meg Jackson, 10th, Edmond North High School, Edmond, OK
Third Place – Olivia Parker, 9th, Highland Park High School, Highland Park, NJ


First Place – Destinee O’Shea, 11th, Cheney High School Cheney, KS
Second Place – Robert Spurlin, 11th, Deer Creek-Lamont High School, Lamont, OK
Third Place – Wyatt Simkins, 12th, Carroll High School, Fort Wayne, IN


We are grateful to Allegiance Credit Union for sponsoring this contest, and proud of our continued partnership. The Federal Employees Credit Union, which changed its name to Allegiance Credit Union in 2003, was located on the third floor of the Murrah Building and lost 18 of its 33 employees in the bombing. Six of the surviving employees were seriously injured. With the assistance of other credit unions and volunteers, they were able to reopen within 48 hours at a temporary site furnished by Tinker Federal Credit Union. “The legacy of FECU, the restoration, and continued growth as Allegiance Credit Union makes members and employees alike, proud to be credit union people,” said Lynette Leonard, Allegiance Credit Union President/CEO.