In April, Key Peninsula school kids won a fair share of awards at this year’s Arbor Day poster, photography and poetry contest.
According to Carol Alex, president of the Gig Harbor Arbor Day organization, every school in the Peninsula District participates in the Arbor Day activities and several KP students made a big impression on the judges in this year’s competition.
Maddie James, a fifth-grader at Minter Creek, won first place in the poster contest for her drawing of animals in trees.
“Arbor Day is important because it’s all about trees, and trees provide oxygen and we breathe oxygen so the trees keep us alive,” the 11-year-old said.
The idea for her poster just popped into her head.
“I have a lot of animals in my picture because animals are a big part of my life. My mom is a vet-tech and a lot of our animals have back stories behind them because they came from hard places and then they were at my mom’s clinic and then they came to our house,” she said.
The animals in her picture aren’t just ordinary critters. They talk to each other.
“I wrote little quotes to show that there’s dialog between them,” Maddie said. “There’s a bird nest and a bird in one tree and the bird says, ‘We live here,’ and there’s a cat up there in a tree and the cat says: ‘Trees are good hideouts too.’ And a dog says ‘Where’s that cat? Ooops. Save the trees.’
“I want people to think about helping the environment and not littering and stuff like that,” Maddie said.
Her idea was clever and creative enough that Maddie won $100 as first prize for her work.
Two other Minter Creek students also received awards: 11-year-old Brianna Klahond tied for third place in the poster contest and 10-year-old Savannah Bruno’s illustration will be used on the cover of this year’s poetry book.
Ryen Hall, a seventh-grader at Key Peninsula Middle School, also caught the judges’ eye with a photo of a grove of flowering trees with a body of water in the background. She won first place in photography.
“You just want to walk into that photograph,” Alex said. ”It’s marvelous.”
Another of Ryen’s photos won an honorable mention in the contest.
Evergreen Elementary student Jackson Clak and Vaughn student Emily Price both received honorable mentions in the essay contest and each was awarded a gift card to Mostly Books in Gig Harbor.
Evergreen kindergartner Rosemary Adams won an award for her tree art.
The awards were presented April 25 at the official Arbor Day celebration at the Gig Harbor Civic Center.
The local event has been held every April since 2001, Alex said.
“We have a tree planting, we pass out tree seedlings to the public, and there are arts and crafts for kids and honor the students who have participated in our contest.
“Each age level is included and the winners in each level get prizes and they talk about the picture they created or their poem or essay. Some of them have never been recognized before for anything. I get a big kick out of seeing them being honored like this,” Alex said.
Funding for the Arbor Day activities comes from private sources, grants and from people in the community.
The organization is always looking for board members, donations and volunteers to help at the event, Alex said.
“Every year, we have high school kids who come and help and so many times they tell us that they remember planting one of our little trees back when they were in the third grade,” Alex said. “They remember it and they carry that with them to the rest of their lives.”
Planning for next year’s event will begin next February.
For information visit gigharborarbor.org.