Stossel in the Classroom awards students each year for writing

COURTESY PHOTO - Gaston resident Jacob McDowell, 17, holds two copies of journalist John Stossels book, which hes won in an essay contest two years in a row.Gaston home-schooled student Joseph McDowell earned recognition for his entry into the annual Stossel in the Classroom essay contest.

Joseph was named a finalist the second year in a row.

Stossel in the Classroom provides educators with free curriculum materials and assistance featuring television journalist John Stossel's work. The project is part of the non-profit Center for Independent Thought.

Stossel is known for his career on ABC News and Fox Business Channel as well as his libertarian views.

More than 2,200 students ages 12 to 18 wrote essays examining how technological innovation has changed their lives and how the American society should address problems related to such advances after watching Stossel's television special on the issue. One hundred and twenty five entrants won prizes ranging from $50 to $1,500. They also won a copy of Stossel's book.

"He's a really good writer and enjoys nonfiction," Joseph's mother Kristen McDowell said of her son, who's currently taking a writing class at Portland Community College.

Joseph, 17, wrote an essay focusing on the government regulations placed on companies like Uber and Airbnb as well as emerging products like self-regulating cars that require little interference from drivers. Joseph chose the topic because some cities banning companies like Uber and Airbnb, for example, is at the forefront of the news right now.

"It's really cool to do that well," Jacob said of his accomplishment.

Top essays and a full list of winner can be found at

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